Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Remembering Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson, one of America’s premier poets, was born nearly two-hundred years ago on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts. Daughter of a prominent lawyer, and granddaughter of one of Amherst University’s founders, Dickinison was the second of three children.

Dickinson lived a quiet life. Only a few of her poems were published during her lifetime, and those were published anonymously. Shortly after the poet's death in 1886, her younger sister, Lavinia, discovered hundreds of short, untitled verses, some sewn together in booklets, others copied on small fragments of paper. Transcribing these handwritten poems presented a major challenge.  (Images of Dickinson’s poems can be viewed at Emily Dickinson Archive.) Editing and publishing them also created a rift between members of Dickinson's family and friends.

In Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds, Lyndall Gordon tells Dickinson's story in two parts. The first half of the book presents the poet’s life, including Lyndall’s speculation that epilepsy contributed to Dickinson’s reclusiveness; the second half recounts the strife that arose over the disposition of Dickinson’s unpublished work.

For more information about the poet and her writings visit the Emily Dickinson Museum.

The Library has several books about Dickinson including Lives Like Loaded Guns (B DICKINSON, GORDON) and The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, (811 DICKINSON).

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