Emily Dickinson Biography

Emily Dickinson Biography

Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 10, 1830, Emily Dickinson. is recognized as a significant figure in American poetry, though her fame only grew posthumously. Hailing from a prominent family deeply rooted in the local community, Dickinson spent seven years studying at the Amherst Academy during her youth. Subsequently, she briefly attended the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family’s residence.

Throughout her life, Dickinson appeared to live in relative isolation, earning a reputation as an eccentric within her community. Her distinctive preference for white attire and a reluctance to engage with guests, and later, a reluctance to leave her bedroom, further fueled this perception. Notably, she never married, and her connections with others were primarily sustained through written correspondence.

Despite her prolific writing, only 10 of Dickinson’s nearly 1,800 poems and one letter were published during her lifetime. These published works were often heavily edited to conform to conventional poetic norms. Dickinson’s poems were distinctive for her time, characterized by short lines, the absence of titles, and the frequent use of slant rhyme, unconventional capitalization, and punctuation. Themes of death, immortality, aesthetics, society, nature, and spirituality permeate her poetic repertoire.

While Dickinson’s contemporaries may have been aware of her writing, it was only after her death in 1886 that her work gained public attention. Lavinia Dickinson, her younger sister, stumbled upon a cache of her poems, leading to the first published collection in 1890 by Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd. This initial publication, however, underwent significant editing. A comprehensive collection, truly representative of her work, emerged in 1955 when “The Poems of Emily Dickinson” was published by Thomas H. Johnson. In 1998, a study was reported by The New York Times.utilizing infrared technology, revealing deliberate censorship in Dickinson’s work. Specifically, the exclusion of the name “Susan” was noted. Eleven of Dickinson’s poems were initially dedicated to her sister-in-law Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson, and these dedications were later erased, presumably by Todd. This censorship has contributed to the obscured nature of Emily and Susan’s relationship, with many scholars interpreting it as potentially romantic.

Emily Dickinson Early Life

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson entered the world on December 10, 1830, at the family homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts. Although her family was prominent, they did not bask in wealth. Her father, Edward Dickinson, served as a lawyer in Amherst and held the position of a trustee at Amherst College. Two centuries earlier, her patrilineal ancestors thrived in the New World during the Puritan Great Migration.

Notably, Emily’s paternal grandfather, Samuel Dickinson, played a pivotal role in founding Amherst College. In 1813, he erected the Homestead, a grand mansion that became the focal point of Dickinson family life for nearly a century. Edward, Samuel’s eldest son, served as Amherst College’s treasurer, held positions in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate, and represented Massachusetts’s 10th congressional district in the 33rd U.S. Congress. In 1828, he married Emily Norcross from Monson, Massachusetts, and they had three children: William Austin, Emily Elizabeth, and Lavinia Norcross.

Emily Dickinson’s family connections extended to distant relatives, including Baxter Dickinson and his family, notably his grandson, the organist and composer Clarence Dickinson.

During her childhood, Emily was known for her good behavior. During a visit to Monson at the age of two, her Aunt Lavinia described her as a “very good child and but little trouble.” Emily exhibited an early fondness for music, showcasing particular talent on the piano, which her aunt endearingly called “the moosic.”

Emily attended primary school in a two-story building on Pleasant Street. Despite the Victorian era’s limitations on girls’ education, her father, valuing education, closely monitored their progress even during his business travels. At the age of seven, he reminded them to “keep school” and share their new learnings upon his return. While Emily held a warm regard for her father, her correspondence indicated a distant and aloof relationship with her mother. In a letter to a confidante, she described her mother as “an awful Mother” but confessed a preference for her over none.

On September 7, 1840, Emily and her sister Lavinia commenced their education at Amherst Academy, a former boys’ school that had recently opened its doors to female students. Simultaneously, her father acquired a new house on North Pleasant Street. This substantial residence, as described by Dickinson’s brother Austin, became their domain, a “mansion” where they assumed the roles of “lord and lady” when their parents were away. Overlooking Amherst’s burial ground, the house was characterized by one local minister as treeless and “forbidding.”

Emily Dickinson Teenage Years

During her formative years, Emily Dickinson dedicated seven years to her education at the academy, engaging in a diverse array of subjects such as Studies encompassed English and classical literature, Latin, botany, geology, history, “mental philosophy,” and arithmetic.The principal at the time, Daniel Taggart Fiske, lauded Dickinson as a “very bright” and “excellent scholar,” emphasizing her exemplary deportment and diligence in all school duties. Despite occasional breaks due to illness, with the longest hiatus lasting eleven weeks in 1845–1846, Dickinson expressed her enthusiasm for the challenging curriculum, deeming the academy a “very fine school.”

From an early age, Dickinson grappled with a profound awareness of death’s looming presence, particularly the loss of close acquaintances. The death of her second cousin and dear friend, Sophia Holland, from typhus in April 1844 deeply affected her. Recalling the event two years later, Dickinson revealed the intensity of her emotional distress, stating, “it seemed to me I should die too if I could not be permitted to watch over her or even look at her face.” Her parents, concerned for her well-being, sent her to family in Boston for recovery, and upon her return to Amherst Academy, she continued her studies. This period also marked the beginning of lifelong friendships with individuals like Abiah Root, Abby Wood, Jane Humphrey, and Susan Huntington Gilbert, who eventually wedded Dickinson’s brother Austin. In 1845, a religious awakening swept through Amherst, leading to 46 confessions of faith among Dickinson’s peers. Dickinson herself experienced a period of spiritual introspection, noting in a letter to a friend that she had never felt such “perfect peace and happiness” as when she believed she had found her Savior. However, this phase was temporary, and she never formalized her faith, ceasing regular church attendance around 1852. This transition is encapsulated in a poem she wrote, beginning with the lines, “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church – I keep it, staying at Home.”

In her final year at the academy, Dickinson developed a friendship with Leonard Humphrey, the institution’s new and popular young principal. After concluding her term on August 10, 1847, Dickinson enrolled in Mary Lyon’s Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (later Mount Holyoke College) in South Hadley, located ten miles from Amherst. Her stay at the seminary lasted only ten months, during which she failed to form lasting friendships. The reasons for her brief tenure vary, with possibilities including poor health, her father’s desire for her presence at home, discomfort with the evangelical atmosphere, dissatisfaction with discipline-minded teachers, or simple homesickness. Regardless, her brother Austin arrived on March 25, 1848, to bring her back to Amherst. Back home, Dickinson engaged in household activities, taking up baking for the family and participating in local events in the burgeoning college town.

Emily Dickinson Death

In her final years, Emily Dickinson maintained her commitment to writing, yet there was a notable shift in her approach. She ceased the meticulous editing and organization of her poems, allowing them to exist in a more raw and unrefined state. Intriguingly, she took a significant step by extracting A commitment from her sister, Lavinia, to incinerate her documents.

This decision to consign her written work to flames adds an air of mystery to Dickinson’s later creative endeavors. The act of relinquishing control over the fate of her literary legacy raises questions about the intentions behind such a directive.

Lavinia Dickinson, Emily’s unmarried sister, dutifully honored this solemn pledge. She continued to reside at the family Homestead, the epicenter of Dickinson family life, until her own passing in 1899. The decision to uphold her sister’s wishes speaks to the bond between the two sisters and the unique dynamics that characterized the Dickinson household. The flames that could have consumed Emily’s papers were never ignited, leaving the enigma of what treasures or insights into her creative process might have been lost with their destruction.

In the end, Emily Dickinson’s request for the destruction of her papers adds another layer to the mystique surrounding this iconic poet, emphasizing the intensely private nature of her life and work.During the tumultuous 1880s, the Dickinson family faced profound challenges. Austin, estranged from his wife, found solace in the arms of Mabel Loomis Todd, a faculty wife from Amherst College. Despite never meeting Emily Dickinson, Todd was captivated by the enigmatic poet, dubbing her “a lady whom the people call the Myth.”

As Austin became more entangled in his affair, his wife succumbed to the weight of grief. Emily’s mother passed away on November 14, 1882. Just five weeks later, she reflected, “We were never intimate… while she was our Mother – but Mines in the same Ground meet by tunneling, and when she became our Child, the Affection came.” following year brought another blow as Gilbert, Emily’s favored sibling and Austin and Sue’s youngest child, succumbed to typhoid fever.

With each death, Emily found her world unraveling. In the autumn of 1884, she confessed, “The Dyings have been too deep for me, and before I could raise my Heart from one, another has come.” Her premonition of “a great darkness coming” materialized one summer day, causing her to faint in the kitchen. Weeks of ill health ensued.

On November 30, 1885, Austin, deeply concerned about Emily’s worsening condition, canceled a trip to Boston. Confined to her bed for months, Emily Successfully dispatched a last flurry of letters during the spring. Her presumed last letter to cousins Louise and Frances Norcross succinctly stated: “Little Cousins, Called Back. Emily.” On May 15, 1886, after enduring a two-and-a-half-year battle with Bright’s disease, Emily Dickinson passed away at the age of 55.

In her final moments, Susan, Austin, and Lavinia entrusted Emily’s body to Susan for preparation. Susan, who also composed Dickinson’s obituary for the Springfield Republican, concluded it with lines from one of Emily’s poems. Lavinia, placing her trust in Sue to handle everything with love, found solace. Emily was laid to rest in a white coffin adorned with the fragrance of Aromatic heliotrope with a vanilla scent, a lady’s slipper orchid, and a cluster of blue field violets.


The funeral service, conducted in the Homestead’s library, was simple and brief. Higginson, who had crossed paths with Emily only twice, recited “No Coward Soul Is Mine,” a poem by Emily Brontë that held a special place in Dickinson’s heart. Adhering to Emily’s wish, her coffin was not driven but gently carried through fields of buttercups to her final resting place in the family plot at West Cemetery on Triangle Street.

Emily Dickinson Net Worth And Income

Emily Dickinson, renowned for her poetic prowess, derives her income primarily from the body of work that has solidified her reputation as a distinguished poet. As of 2023, her estimated net worth stands at an impressive $1,000,000 or more. This financial recognition is a testament to the enduring impact of her literary contributions, which continue to resonate with readers and scholars alike, cementing her legacy as one of the most influential figures in the world of poetry.

Emily Dickinson Height and Weight

There is no reliable historical record or documentation regarding Emily Dickinson’s exact height. The information provided about her height at the age of 55 (5’1″ or 1.53m) seems to be speculative or fictional. Details about the physical characteristics of historical figures, especially those from the 19th century like Emily Dickinson, are often not well-documented or may be subject to inaccuracies. If there have been recent discoveries or updates regarding Emily Dickinson’s height, it would be essential to refer to reputable sources or biographies for the most accurate information.

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