The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was originally published in 1962 under the pseudonym “Victoria Lucas”. Notice how the first few covers from the 1960s and early ’70s use vague and symbolic imagery intended to convey the unsettling contents of the book.
As Sylvia Plath becomes more of a feminist icon throughout the ’80s and ’90s, the imagery is replaced by a portrait of the author, perhaps conflating Sylvia Plath the person with her pseudo-autobiographical character Esther Greenwood. The last image, from 2013, terribly mis-represents the book, using chick-lit style imagery that is more suited to reissues of pulpy “trash” favourites like Valley of the Dolls.
Because Sylvia Plath is such a favourite among feminists (white feminists, I should clarify) perhaps the publishers felt that The Bell Jar should be represented via coded feminine/retro 1950s imagery, despite the fact that it deals largely with non-corporeal themes of mental illness rather than beauty ideals.
(All images via sylviaplath.info)