Date of Award

Spring 1965

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Languages & Literature

Abstract

Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts, the daughter of Edward Dickinson, a respected lawyer and Emil Norcross Dickinson, who "did not care for thought". The family included a younger sister, Lavinia, and a brother, William Austin, who later married Susan Gilbert and continued to live with the Dickinsons. Miss Dickinson lived her entire life within the confines of her parents' Amherst home, dying in the house in which she was born on May 15, 1866.

Her education consisted of Amherst schools and one year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley. Her childhood and adolescence were active and social, but after a pleasure trip to Philadelphia and Washington she retired into a life-long seclusion broken only by two trips to Boston for medical reasons. Her circle of friends was small, having no apparent contact with other literary figures with the exception of her literary advisor, Mr. Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Of the 1775 poems created by Miss Dickinson, only seven were published in her lifetime and those anonymously. Since her death, her poems have been sporadically edited and published, principally by her niece, Mrs. Martha Dickinson Bianchi. In 1955, Thomas H. Johnson edited the first complete volume of her poems, published by Harvard University Press.

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