And there are more of them! John Rivers' dog. Referring to his plays, she wrote to one friend, "Why clasp any hand but this? In early , Dickinson wrote that "Amherst is alive with fun this winter Oh, a very great town this is! The Amherst Academy principal, Leonard Humphrey, died suddenly of "brain congestion" at age During the s, Emily's strongest and most affectionate relationship was with her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert.
Emily eventually sent her over three hundred letters, more than to any other correspondent, over the course of their relationship. Susan was supportive of the poet, playing the role of "most beloved friend, influence, muse, and adviser" whose editorial suggestions Dickinson sometimes followed. The importance of Emily's relationship with Susan has widely been overlooked due to a point of view first promoted by Mabel Loomis Todd, Austin Dickinson's longtime mistress, who diminished Susan's role in Emily's life due to her own poor relationship with her lover's wife.
I hope for you so much, and feel so eager for you, feel that I cannot wait, feel that now I must have you—that the expectation once more to see your face again, makes me feel hot and feverish, and my heart beats so fast Sue married Austin in after a four-year courtship, though their marriage was not a happy one. Edward Dickinson built a house for Austin and Sue naming it the Evergreens , a stand of which was located on the west side of the Homestead. Until , Dickinson had not strayed far from Amherst.
That spring, accompanied by her mother and sister, she took one of her longest and farthest trips away from home. Then they went to Philadelphia for two weeks to visit family. In Philadelphia, she met Charles Wadsworth, a famous minister of the Arch Street Presbyterian Church, with whom she forged a strong friendship which lasted until his death in From the mids, Emily's mother became effectively bedridden with various chronic illnesses until her death in I Know not what to hope of her". Forty years later, Lavinia said that because their mother was chronically ill, one of the daughters had to remain always with her.
Withdrawing more and more from the outside world, Emily began in the summer of what would be her lasting legacy. Reviewing poems she had written previously, she began making clean copies of her work, assembling carefully pieced-together manuscript books. In the late s, the Dickinsons befriended Samuel Bowles , the owner and editor-in-chief of the Springfield Republican , and his wife, Mary.
During this time Emily sent him over three dozen letters and nearly fifty poems. These three letters, drafted to an unknown man simply referred to as "Master", continue to be the subject of speculation and contention amongst scholars. The first half of the s, after she had largely withdrawn from social life,  proved to be Dickinson's most productive writing period. While she was diagnosed as having "nervous prostration" by a physician during her lifetime,  some today believe she may have suffered from illnesses as various as agoraphobia  and epilepsy.
In April , Thomas Wentworth Higginson , a literary critic, radical abolitionist , and ex-minister, wrote a lead piece for The Atlantic Monthly titled, "Letter to a Young Contributor". Higginson's essay, in which he urged aspiring writers to "charge your style with life", contained practical advice for those wishing to break into print. Mr Higginson, Are you too deeply occupied to say if my Verse is alive?
This highly nuanced and largely theatrical letter was unsigned, but she had included her name on a card and enclosed it in an envelope, along with four of her poems. She assured him that publishing was as foreign to her "as Firmament to Fin", but also proposed that "If fame belonged to me, I could not escape her".
Dickinson valued his advice, going from calling him "Mr. In direct opposition to the immense productivity that she displayed in the early s, Dickinson wrote fewer poems in Although the household servant of nine years, Margaret O Brien, had married and left the Homestead that same year, it was not until that her family brought in a permanent household servant, Margaret Maher , to replace the old one.
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Around this time, Dickinson's behavior began to change. She did not leave the Homestead unless it was absolutely necessary and as early as , she began to talk to visitors from the other side of a door rather than speaking to them face to face. Dickinson's one surviving article of clothing is a white cotton dress, possibly sewn circa — When visitors came to either the Homestead or the Evergreens, she would often leave or send over small gifts of poems or flowers.
A Feminist Literary Criticism of Emily Dickinson’s Poem “I ’m wife; I’ve finished that” (Poem #189)
Mattie Dickinson, the second child of Austin and Sue, later said that "Aunt Emily stood for indulgence. When Higginson urged her to come to Boston in so they could formally meet for the first time, she declined, writing: "Could it please your convenience to come so far as Amherst I should be very glad, but I do not cross my Father's ground to any House or town". Later he referred to her, in the most detailed and vivid physical account of her on record, as "a little plain woman with two smooth bands of reddish hair Without touching her, she drew from me.
I am glad not to live near her. Scholar Judith Farr notes that Dickinson, during her lifetime, "was known more widely as a gardener, perhaps, than as a poet". It contained pressed flower specimens that she collected, classified, and labeled using the Linnaean system. It has not survived but efforts to revive it have begun. Her niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, remembered "carpets of lily-of-the-valley and pansies , platoons of sweetpeas , hyacinths , enough in May to give all the bees of summer dyspepsia.
There were ribbons of peony hedges and drifts of daffodils in season, marigolds to distraction—a butterfly utopia". Dickinson would often send her friends bunches of flowers with verses attached, but "they valued the posy more than the poetry".
Emily Dickinson: Bibliography to
On June 16, , while in Boston, Edward Dickinson suffered a stroke and died. When the simple funeral was held in the Homestead's entrance hall, Emily stayed in her room with the door cracked open. Neither did she attend the memorial service on June Lamenting her mother's increasing physical as well as mental demands, Emily wrote that "Home is so far from Home". After the death of Lord's wife in , his friendship with Dickinson probably became a late-life romance, though as their letters were destroyed, this is surmised.
Dickinson looked forward to this day greatly; a surviving fragment of a letter written by her states that "Tuesday is a deeply depressed Day". After being critically ill for several years, Judge Lord died in March Dickinson referred to him as "our latest Lost". Although she continued to write in her last years, Dickinson stopped editing and organizing her poems.
She also exacted a promise from her sister Lavinia to burn her papers. The s were a difficult time for the remaining Dickinsons. Irreconcilably alienated from his wife, Austin fell in love in with Mabel Loomis Todd , an Amherst College faculty wife who had recently moved to the area. Todd never met Dickinson but was intrigued by her, referring to her as "a lady whom the people call the Myth ". Five weeks later, Dickinson wrote "We were never intimate As death succeeded death, Dickinson found her world upended.
In the fall of , she wrote that "The Dyings have been too deep for me, and before I could raise my Heart from one, another has come. She remained unconscious late into the night and weeks of ill health followed. On November 30, , her feebleness and other symptoms were so worrying that Austin canceled a trip to Boston. What is thought to be her last letter was sent to her cousins, Louise and Frances Norcross, and simply read: "Little Cousins, Called Back.
Austin wrote in his diary that "the day was awful Despite Dickinson's prolific writing, fewer than a dozen of her poems were published during her lifetime. After her younger sister Lavinia discovered the collection of nearly poems, Dickinson's first volume was published four years after her death. Until Thomas H. Johnson published Dickinson's Complete Poems in ,  Dickinson's poems were considerably edited and altered from their manuscript versions.
Since Dickinson has remained continuously in print. They were published anonymously and heavily edited, with conventionalized punctuation and formal titles. In , several poems were altered and published in Drum Beat , to raise funds for medical care for Union soldiers in the war. In the s, Higginson showed Dickinson's poems to Helen Hunt Jackson , who had coincidentally been at the Academy with Dickinson when they were girls. It was the last poem published during Dickinson's lifetime. After Dickinson's death, Lavinia Dickinson kept her promise and burned most of the poet's correspondence.
Significantly though, Dickinson had left no instructions about the 40 notebooks and loose sheets gathered in a locked chest.
Higginson, appeared in November One reviewer, in , wrote: "The world will not rest satisfied till every scrap of her writings, letters as well as literature, has been published". Nearly a dozen new editions of Dickinson's poetry, whether containing previously unpublished or newly edited poems, were published between and These competing editions of Dickinson's poetry, often differing in order and structure, ensured that the poet's work was in the public's eye.
The first scholarly publication came in with a complete new three-volume set edited by Thomas H. Forming the basis of later Dickinson scholarship, Johnson's variorum brought all of Dickinson's known poems together for the first time.