The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson

by on January 12th, 2011
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On the surface Ms. Dickinson life seemed a sad story, and one short told. Living the life of a Hermit, encapsulated in the Dickinson Family home. The same home she was born into, and later died in. Dickinson led an illusive life mostly unknown, even to those in her home town. Hers may even have been a life lost out of this world without impact or meaning to any of us had her last will and testament been honored. It is thanks to her sister that we have have the coveted opportunity to peer into this private, unapologetic and amassing mind.

Emily(Elizabeth) Dickinson was born December 10, 1813 in Amherst, Massachusetts to Edwind Dickinson a prominent figure in the community tied closely to the Amherst College of which his father founded. She was an intelligent child often surprising her pears and teachers alike with her compositions. From a young age Emily allowed her imagination and original thoughts to have free reign. Dickinson spent one year away from her home at the Mary Lyons Mount Holyoke Female Seminary at the age of seventeen. Unwilling to profess her faith in Christ like all of her fellow school mates Emily found herself to be very unhappy and in an uninvited isolation. The letters she wrote to friends Abiah Root and Jane Humphrey during this time spoke on her unhappiness in the seminary. Emily felt alone in this rebellion and this life event seemed to begin perpetuated themes in her life paralleled by her writing. Eventually at age thirty Emily withdrew from church entirely.

Although never married and with no lover to name Dickinson did develop intellectual relationships with various men through her adult life. She did show a few poems to these ‘touters’ as she referred to them, but rarely shared any of her poetry to those in her family circle. Quite the opposite was true, Dickinson went through great pains to conceal her work, and wrote her poetry in what was called fair copy, sewing them into forty pamphlet like volumes. It wasn’t until after her death that the full magnitude of the literary success Emily Dickinson had achieve was realized.

The content of Dickinson’s poetry varied from moments lived, faith, and romance. With a huge cloud settling over platonic intimacy and sexuality through out her work. Emily wrote in a minimalist manner that was crisp and uncluttered. All of her works were scripted by her hand. This separated Dickinsons’ work yet again from the rest as it seemed that the visual representation of her poetry often lent to the overall meaning and has proved to be a difficulty in publishing.

Fame was something Dickinson never desired, and in her life time never had. Emily Dickinson is now one of America’s golden minds, and her work has given this nearly forgotten hermit a second, and influential life in death. She now carries a legacy of touching minds and hearts with her words, and still to this day continues to elude the masses with the her secrets spun into words and hidden by her own hand.

” Emily Dickinson.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008.
Encyclopedia.com. 8 Mar. 2010 .

Cotter, Holland “Critics Notebook; Sights Trained Yet Again on Amherst Elusive Belle” 14 Oct, 1999 4 Mar. 2010

Crumbley, Paul “Emily Dickinson’s Life” Feb 2000. 6 March2010

Hart, James D. and and Phillip W. Leininger. “Dickinson, Emily (Elizabeth).” The Oxford Companion to American Literature. 1995. Encyclopedia.com. 8 Mar. 2010 .


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