Diane Arbus, like her mother, suffered from depression much of her life. “And it is so goddamn chemical, I’m convinced,” she wrote in a letter to her friend Carlotta Marshall in 1968, three years before her suicide on 26 July 1971. “Energy, some special kind of energy just leaks out and I am left lacking the confidence even to cross the street.”
During her lifetime, Arbus achieved great acclaim for her photographs, but she was also lambasted for being exploitative of her subjects (”people who are pathetic, pitiable, as well as repulsive,”Susan Sontag wrote). Arbus struggled with both the acclaim and criticism. Her husband Allan Arbus noted that she had “violent changes of mood” and the couple divorced in 1969.
On 26 July 1971, she swallowed a number of barbiturates, climbed fully dressed into her bathtub and cut her wrists with a razor blade. The final words in her open diary were “Last Supper,” which some have interpreted as a black-humor parody of Jesus’ act of eating bread and drinking wine (eating pills and spilling blood). She was 48.
Sylvia and Ted “interrupted in a spat,” Chalot Square, London, July 25, 1960 photographed by Hans Beacham for a portfolio of images of British writers
"They were sullen. Hughes was rude. He was going to get more attention than she, and she didn’t like that while he did. He invited me outside and told me I needed to know that he loathed photographers". Hughes particularly wanted to keep Plath out of the way. "His wish, of course, forced me to photograph them together", Beacham said; and later; Hughes acknowledged that he had been "an ogre."
—Diane Middlebrook, Her Husband: Hughes and Plath-a Marriage, 2003
One of twenty buildings completed during the presidency of Howard R. Bowen (1964–1969), Van Allen Hall is a manifestation of both Bowen’s strong support of the sciences and the critical importance of its namesake’s work. James A. Van Allen, a native Iowan, earned his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa and taught in the physics department for decades. Using rocket-launched balloons as early satellites, Van Allen discovered high densities of radiation in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, phenomena now known as the Van Allen Belts. His findings earned him the May 4, 1958, cover of Time magazine, a National Medal of Science, and membership in the National Academy of Science. Van Allen Hall continues to house the physics and astronomy faculty from which he retired in 1986.