Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was born on December 10,
1830 in Amherst Massachusetts. She had a
younger sister named Lavina and an older
brother named Austin. Her mother Emily
Norcross Dickinson, was largely dependent
on her family and was seen by Emily as a
poor mother. Her father was lawyer,
Congressman, and the Treasurer for Amherst
College. Unlike her mother, Emily loved and
admired her father. Since the family was not
emotional, they lived a quiet secure life. They
rarely shared their problems with one another
so Emily had plenty of privacy for writing.

During her childhood, Emily and her family
attended The First Congregational Church on
a regular basis. Emily did not like going to
church because she didn\'t think of herself as
being very religious. She refused to believe
that Heaven was a better place than Earth
and eventually rebelled from the church.
Emily saw herself as a woman who had her
own way of thinking, a way of thinking
shaped neither by the church or society.

By the time she was twelve, her family moved
to a house on Pleasant Street where they
lived from 1840 to 1855. Emily was already
writing letters, but composed most of her
poetry in this home. Emily only left home to
attend Mount Holyoke Female Seminary for
two semesters.

Though her stay there was brief, she
impressed her teachers with her courage and
directness. They felt her writing was
sensational.

At the age of twenty-one, Emily and her family
moved to the Dickinson Homestead on Main
Street. This move proved to be very difficult
for Emily. This was difficult for Emily because
she became very attached to her old house,
which shaped her writing and personality for
fifteen years. They now lived next door to her
brother Austin and his wife Susan and their
daughter Martha. Emily and Susan became
so close that many people believe they may
have been lovers. A rumor perpetuated by the
fact that Emily was known to have written
many love letters and poems to Susan.
Martha attempted to protect both of their
images and suppress the rumors. It became
common knowledge that Emily had some type
of very strong feelings for Susan.

At the age of thirty-one Emily sent some of
her poems to a publisher, Thomas Higginson,
from whom she got a very good response and
a strong friendship developed. He acted as
her mentor but she never seemed to have
taken any of his advice. It became evident
that she didn\'t like the idea of having her
works published, she made 40 packets of
about twenty poems apiece from 814 poems.
She placed these in a box along with 333
other poems.

Emily died on May 5, 1886 at the age of 56.
She had planned her own funeral. It was held
at the mansion on Main Street and ended at
the family plot near the house on Pleasant
Street. At her request, her casket was
covered with violets and pine boughs, while
she herself was dressed in a new white gown
and had a strand of violets placed about her
neck. Before she died, Emily left specific
instructions for her sister and a housemaid,
Maggie to destroy all the letters she had
received and saved. The box of packets and
poems was found with these letters, but Emily
had not said anything about destroying them.
Her sister Lavina was determined to have
these published, but Susan kept them for two
years before they were released to
Higginson.

In 1890 and 1891, some of the poems were
published. They received a great response,
but no more were released until 1955, when
the rest of her poems were published.
Though she was not religious many of her
poems do reflect Protestant and Calvinistic
views. She wrote many of her poems on pain,
but unlike most Protestants she refused to
believe that she deserved this pain. Though
she is viewed by many as a hermit who spent
much of her life in isolation, she also is
admired for her style in writing. She chose
her words for her poems in a way that allows
the reader to choose the meaning. In
conclusion, she wrote nearly eighteen
hundred poems, most ignoring rhyme and
punctuation. Emily’s poems did not have titles
because she never wanted them to be
published. Many of her poems are dark and
mysterious but all are true works of art.

Category: Book Reports