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Emily Dickinson

1830-1886

One of the greatest poets in American literature

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Emily Dickinson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

From the daguerreotype taken at Mount Holyoke, December 1846 or early 1847. The only authenticated portrait of Emily Dickinson later than childhood, the original is held by the Archives and Special Collections at Amherst College.[1]

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminarybefore returning to her family's house in Amherst. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence.

Although Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime.[2] The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation.[3]Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.

Although most of her acquaintances were probably aware of Dickinson's writing, it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Emily's younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of Dickinson's work became apparent. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, both of whom heavily edited the content. A complete and mostly unaltered collection of her poetry became available for the first time in 1955 when The Poems of Emily Dickinson was published by scholar Thomas H. Johnson. Despite unfavorable reviews and skepticism of her literary prowess during the late 19th and early 20th century, critics now consider Dickinson to be a major American poet.[4]

Life

Family and early childhood

A drawing of the young Emily Dickinson, age nine. It was made from a portrait featuring Emily, Austin and Lavinia as children.

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born at the family's homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 10, 1830, into a prominent, but not opulent, family.[5]Two hundred years earlier, the Dickinsons had arrived in the New World—in the Puritan Great Migration—where they prospered.[6] Emily Dickinson's paternal grandfather, Samuel Dickinson, had almost single-handedly founded Amherst College.[7] In 1813 he built the homestead, a large mansion on the town's Main Street, that became the focus of Dickinson family life for the better part of a century.[8]Samuel Dickinson's eldest son, Edward, was treasurer of Amherst College for nearly forty years, served numerous terms as a State Legislator, and represented the Hampshire district in the United States Congress. On May 6, 1828, he married Emily Norcross from Monson. They had three children:

By all accounts, young Emily was a well-behaved girl. On an extended visit to Monson when she was two, Emily's Aunt Lavinia described Emily as "perfectly well & contented—She is a very good child & but little trouble."[10] Emily's aunt also noted the girl's affinity for music and her particular talent for the piano, which she called "the moosic".[11]

Dickinson attended primary school in a two-story building on Pleasant Street.[12] Her education was "ambitiously classical for a Victorian girl".[13] Her father wanted his children well-educated and he followed their progress even while away on business. When Emily was seven, he wrote home, reminding his children to "keep school, and learn, so as to tell me, when I come home, how many new things you have learned".[14] While Emily consistently described her father in a warm manner, her correspondence suggests that her mother was regularly cold and aloof. In a letter to a confidante, Emily wrote she "always ran Home to Awe [Austin] when a child, if anything befell me. He was an awful Mother, but I liked him better than none."[15]

On September 7, 1840, Dickinson and her sister Lavinia started together at Amherst Academy, a former boys' school that had opened to female students just two years earlier.[12] At about the same time, her father purchased a house on North Pleasant Street.[16] Emily's brother Austin later described this large new home as the "mansion" over which he and Emily presided as "lord and lady" while their parents were absent.[17] The house overlooked Amherst's burial ground, described by one local minister as treeless and "forbidding".[16]

By Eric M.   - Gotha Middle School, Windermere, Florida.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1836) was born in Amherst Massachusetts on December 10, 1830. Not much is known about her life because she seldom talked to anyone outside her immediate family. She wrote about many things in nature as a young adult.

Starting somewhere around her 30's, she went into reclusion in her parent's house. There are many theories about why she became a recluse, ranging from bad health, to being depressed because of a failed relationship. About all that anyone is sure about, is that she wrote a lot of poetry. She wrote many poems about life, starting when she was about 30. Most of her best poems were written during the Civil War. During the 1870's, she slowed down, but continued writing poetry.

She is famous for being one of the best poets in American history. She is considered one of the two best American poets. Dickinson wrote over 1700 poems. She died in 1886.
 

Sources:
Encyclopedia Americana
World Book Encyclopedia
The New Book of Knowledge
New Standard Encyclopedia



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