Emily Dickinson remains an enigma ... a recluse who wrote over 1000 poems, of which only a scant few were published in her lifetime. However, as biographer Lyndall Gordon writes, beneath the still surface of the poet's life lay a fiercely passionate nature and a closely guarded secret. She lived her life "in her father's house', writing the poems that were to embroil both herself and her family in feuds and disputes over their publication. Her intensity, spoken of by her mentor Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who only met her face-to-face twice is particularly revealing when he said he had never encountered anyone 'who drained my nerve power so much'.
'There are those
who are shallow
Pencilled text fragment from The Gorgeous Nothings, reproduced on pages 159 and 250.
Poetry by Dickinson
- A Choice of Emily Dickinsons' verse selected with an introduction by Ted Hughes.
- Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886, in Major voices: 20 British & American Poets, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1973, pp.: 275-287.
Biography and studies of Emily Dickinson
- Lives like loaded guns: Emily Dickinson and her family fueds by Lyndall Gordon. You can read more about this book from The Guardian, 13 February 2010, where Lyndall Gordon writes on Emily Dickinson, 'A Bomb in her bosom: Emily Dickinson's secret life'.
- White heat: the friendship of Emily Dickinson & Thomas Wenthworth Higginson by Brenda Wineapple. Read a review of this book by Miranda Seymour, from The New York Times, 22 August 2008, Emily's tryst.
- Emily Dickinson, in Women of words: a personal introduction to thirty-five important writers edited by Janet Bukovinsky, Running Press, 1994, pp.: 39-42.
Additional resources on our shelves:
- Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous nothings. These pocket-size papers, reproduced in this beautiful book were discovered in the Amherst College Library. Written on the backs of, and scraps of envelopes and letters they contain sentences, stanzas and entire roughed-out poems in Dickinson's own hand. They were probably carried in the pocket of one of her famous white dresses, from which they could be pulled-out quickly when inspiration came to her. Read a review by Holland Cotter, from The New York Times, 5 December, 2013. A poet who pushed (and recycled) the envelope.
- Read eight of Dickinson's poems and hear actress Juliet Stevenson read, 'Success is counted sweetest', 'There's a certain Slant of Light', 'Because I could not stop for death' and 'My life closed twice before its close' in Catching life by the throat: how to read poetry and why, poems from eight great poets by Josephine Hart.
- For images of the poet's house and her only surviving white dress refer to Anne Leibovitz: Pilgrimage with an introduction by Doris Kearns Goodwin, pages 16-27.
- Emily Dickinson by Allen Tate, in Interpretations of American literature, edited by Charles Feidelson, Jr. and Paul Brodtkorb, Jr. Oxford University Press, 1959, pp. 197-211.
- eLibrary - General author/title search
On our shelves:
Online Study Notes
- Emily Dickinson- featured at the Academy of American Poets. Includes the ability to search for, and view facsimile's of the poet's work.
- Emily Dickinson at Amherst College. Emily Dickinson attended Amherst College between 1840-1847.
- Emily Dickinson Collection at Harvard. Includes a talk (65 minutes) by Professor Helen Vendler, Emily Dickinson and the Sublime'. Introducted by Leslie Morris, of the Houghton Library.