Listening to the voices of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton is a powerful acoustic experience. When I began the research for my new book, Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton, I spent many months in archives reading letters, looking at poetry manuscripts, and handling personal possessions such as typewriters, address books, even hair. But time spent in the audio rooms gave a unique insight into the physicality of these two women.

Imagine sitting alone in a booth, wearing noise-canceling headphones, and turning the volume up loud to hear a tipsy Anne Sexton sing Christmas carols with her neighbor, or Plath chuckle her way through describing eccentric Englishisms she’d noticed since moving to England with her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes.