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Her Early Years Dickinson was born in 1830, at Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10 as the second of three children. Her family was well known for educational and political activity. She attended Amherst Academy, during which time she was very outgoing.

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Emily Dickinson


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emily dickinson
Her Early Years

Dickinson was born in 1830, at Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10 as the second of three children.

Her family was well known for educational and political activity.

She attended Amherst Academy, during which time she was very outgoing.

After Amherst she attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, only to withdraw a year later due to severe homesickness.

Emily Dickinson
later years
Later Years
  • After leaving Holyoke, Dickinson restricted herself to her home and seldom left it.
  • There are many speculations as to why she eliminated nearly all social contact
  • Disappointment in love
  • Her father’s death
  • Feeling better able to write about a world she was not in
  • Hypersensitivity
he loves me he loves me not
He loves me, He loves me NOT
  • Some claim that Dickinson was disappointed in love as the cause of her withdrawal from society.
  • Two candidates that have been presented are Reverend Charles Wadsworth, with whom she corresponded, and Samuel Bowles, editor of the Springfield Republican, to whom she addressed many poems
love affairs
Love Affairs
  • Allegations of a love affair are widely presumed to be a myth.
  • It was far from unusual for grown women simply to keep house as a primary occupation, neither marrying nor working outside the home, especially among relatively wealthy families in 19th-century Massachusetts.
spirituality
Spirituality
  • Dickinson didn’t believe that preachers had the right or authority to preach to her.
  • She refused to be baptized into her family’s church
roots of spiritual unconventionality
Roots of Spiritual Unconventionality

Dickinson was the one student at Holyoke unwilling to publicly confess faith in Christ.

  • At age fifteen, stated, "I never enjoyed such perfect peace and happiness." She wrote to a friend, "as the short time in which I felt I had found my savior.... I feel I shall never be happy without I love Christ."
  • In 1850, told friend Jane Humphrey: "Christ is calling everyone here, all my companions have answered, even my darling Vinnie believes she loves, and trusts him, and I am standing alone in rebellion."
dickinson s poetry
Dickinson’s Poetry
  • Short poems / Short lines
  • Regular meter & beat
  • Near/Slant rhymes
  • Imagery
  • Unconventional Punctuation
  • Quirky, Humorous
  • Often dealt with one or more of the following
  • Death, Nature, God/Spirituality
her poems
Her Poems
  • Most of Dickinson’s poems were written within a six- year period.
  • Some of her best known poems are
    • “Because I Could Not Stop For Death”
    • “ I Am Nobody Who Are You?”
    • “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died”
    • “Success Is Counted Sweetest”
the dash
Dickinson liked to add long dashes to all of her poems.

During her lifetime she was greatly criticized for this tendency.

Now it has become her trademark.

The Dash
publishing
Publishing
  • Dickinson wrote over 1,800 poems but only a few (actual number unclear) were published during her life time.
  • At Hunt Jackson's suggestion, Thomas Niles of Roberts Brothers publishing house tried to get the poet to submit a volume of poems for publication in 1883; Dickinson declined.
the lady in white
The Lady in White
  • In her later years Dickinson took to wearing primarily white.
  • Sometimes she would lower treats to children through her bedroom window careful to never let more than her arms show.
  • When asked how she occupied herself she said, “You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog large as myself.”
her death
Her Death
  • Dickinson died in Amherst on May 15, 1886.
  • She died of Bright's disease which is not truly a disease but a term that was used for a collection of medical symptoms, including nephritis (kidney disease) and hypertension
  • She was 55.