Emily Elizabeth Dickinson life history

Emily Dickinson

In the year 1830, in the month of December, in Amherst Massachusetts, Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born. Her parents were Emily Dickinson and Edward Dickinson, a lawyer by profession. Her parents had three children, and Dickinson’s siblings were Lavinia and William. She lived in a large house, which had been constructed by her late grandfather. Most of her life was spent at that house. Dickson did not have a life that is eventful and circumscribed, yet she made notable accomplishments in life. Furthermore, in her lifetime, she wrote a total of 1775 poems. This is the most number of poems, which have ever been written in the English language. Each of her poems has her personal touch and are unique, thus the reason why they are considered as masterpieces. Many of the readers of her poems are fascinated by life led by Emily Dickinson (Kirk, 2004.12).

Her background is the prime reason why she became quite successful while writing her poems. She had an inner life that seemed to be brilliant and moreover she had an extremely sharp perception. In Dickinson’s family, the presence of a paternal grandfather did not exist. The latter lived a life, which can be described as being successful. On the other hand, Dickinson’s father known as Edward influenced her in a profound manner. Despite the fact that her father did not have a healthy relationship with her mother, Dickinson loved him (Kirk, 2004.12). Edward might have been withdrawn from matters concerning his family, but Dickinson admired him. Thus, Dickinson made him a character in many of her poems. The relationship she had with her mother did not match up to that, which she had with her father. Dickson’s poetry was not easily understood by Emily Norcross. It is believed that her nature, did not allow her to do so, and she did not have intellectual abilities. When Dickinson was young, she wrote letters, whereby she expressed the relationship she had with her mother.

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Dickinson had a small circle of people who were close to her, and she often narrated stories to them. As Dickinson grew older, she had a close relationship with her mother. The relationship grew even more when Edward died, and she had to take care of her mother, who suffered from paralysis. The relationship that existed between Dickson and her brother William is known as being competitive. Fortunately, they had many similar characteristics such as ambition and intellect (Martin, 2002.89). Despite living in the middle of the nineteenth century, Dickson is described as being exceptionally brilliant. Also, the relationship she had with her sister Lavinia is similar to that of her mother and her. Furthermore, Lavinia is responsible for pushing forward and having her sister’s poems published. The latter took place after the death of Dickinson through the help of Mabel Todd and Thomas Higginson. They were the ones who went through Dickinson’s possessions and found her poems. Moreover, they made corrections to her poems by making them more comprehensible.

Only eleven of Dickinson’s poems were published when she was alive, despite having quite a number of them. For example, the famous Amherst White nun image is as a result of the work of some of Dickinson’s family members. The latter is referred to as an epithet, which refers to the white clothes that she wore most of the time. Dickinson’s love life did not attract much attention as she did not have a man in her life. Some poems written by Dickinson were based on unhappy romance and bridal matters. Her lost love known as Johnson faded away and thus, she did not have a happy love life. Researchers have claimed that, in eight years, Dickinson wrote two-thirds of her poetry. Moreover, in the year 1862 until 1864, she wrote the remaining poems, which were 681 in total.

A myth existed that Dickinson did not have many friends, but this is false.  Before she lost her life, her friendship with other people in the literary had grown tremendously. During this time, Dickinson had the pleasure of meeting Helen Jackson, a crusader for American Indian rights and a writer, as well. Religion played a role in writing and interpretation of Dickinson’s poems. Most of her family members converted to liberal Unitarianism, but she did not as she opted to follow traditional Trinitarian traditions. Furthermore, through examining Dickinson’s poems one easily finds elements of empiricism and science. Also, there are elements, which have no meaningful reason and others, which involve church services. Through her father’s teaching, Dickinson became extremely inquisitive on matters concerning life. She had vast knowledge of matters on the subject of physical sciences. She obtained information from her father’s library, and the books she borrowed from the library at Amherst College.

In terms of medical conditions, Dickinson did not suffer from any major ailments. The only problem, which affected her, is her vision. The latter occurred in the year 1862, and it cleared away after some time. It is only the uremic poisoning, which is a medical condition that made her lose her life. It seems that Dickinson is one of the most gifted women ever known to mankind. The Apocrypha and myths, which exists concerning her are not true as has been witnessed. She is known to have been rebellious towards matters concerning religion and family. Furthermore, she knew that she had a duty to help all those who were in need of her assistance. Despite the fact that civil war took place when Dickinson was alive, she still helped many people. People living in Amherst were conservative, and the civil war did not allow helping others as much. She never got married, but still lived her life in a dignified manner as a woman from New England. Her legacy is known and treasured by most people who are familiar with her work.

There were many poems, which were composed, during Dickinson’s lifetime, and this proves that she had a gift for writing. Most of her poems were in the form of lyrics, which were short. In her poems, she dealt with many fascinating subjects such as immortality, loss, nature, beauty, religion, and austerity, among others. It seems that according to her, death is inevitable thus, the reason why she had a lot of interest concerning it. Some of her sources for her poetry were obtained from the Bible (Farr, 2005.9). This is ironical despite the fact that she was not extremely religious. Some of her influence was obtained from famous authors such as John Keats, Shakespeare, and George Herbert. Dickinson is known for her highly developed and personal system, as well as the exceptional use of allusion. Also, she used elements such as seasons, time, places and color in her poems.

Dickinson explored and used rhyme scheme, enjambment, and compression in her poems. It shows that she had valuable information regarding the use of poetry stylistic devices. Moreover, it was not an unusual site to see her poems making effective use of punctuation and capitalization. They were used in a manner referred to as idiosyncratic and are common among credible poets. Dickinson’s work is far much better as compared to that of poets in contemporary America. Dickson had created her own unique style of poetry, which is even recognized up to date. After ‘Poems of Emily Dickinson’ publication took place in the year 1890 many people criticized her work. The latter changed as people became more aware of her poems and instead acclaimed her. Dickinson’s thoughts and emotions were praised as they were referred to as being inspiring (Brantley, 2004.56).

People who lived in the 1890s were more interested in the message of the poems, rather than the techniques of poetry used. Currently, poetry critics are appreciative of the poems written by Dickinson as they have perfect structure and language. Since Dickinson wrote her poems to be viewed as lyrics, people should not be involved in examining their structure. According to a popular poetry critic, known as Karen Oakes, there is a feminine discourse in Dickinson’s poems. In order to bring feminine discourse, which is intimate, she used metonymy in her poems. In turn, it makes readers know what she wants to put across in her poems. In her poems, it is evident that there is a struggle between females and males. The latter believe that they have power, as this is how society is (Vendler, 2004.24). Through her poems, her sexuality is known as she obtains support and safety from females in her life. Some people have claimed that, in some of her poems, there is extensive usage of clitoral imagery and even homoeroticism. The best poem concerning nature by Dickinson is known as poem 986. It has been praised as its content has unique techniques, as well as the execution style, is perfect. Through reading this poem, Dickinson’s character is known and it seems that she is afraid of sexuality matters. Her personality is witnessed in her poems and this makes her unique. Those who tried to interpret her poems had a difficult task, as she did not date or punctuate them. In turn, Johnson numbered the poems, and this is the format known by people today. Indeed, Dickson is ascribed as being in the list of the best poets.


In conclusion, Dickinson’s life is surrounded by enigmatic details and is of interest to many of her critics and readers, as well. Her poetry is thematic, original and technical, and thus, a reason why a fascination among its readers. Furthermore, she shows her deep interest and knowledge concerning her experience in emotional and intellectual matters. There is no school poet who can be compared to her, due to the rich content of her poems. The only poet of her time who can be compared to her poems is Walt Whitman. It seems that Dickinson will forever be remembered as one of America’s notable poets.





















Work Cited

Vendler, Helen. Poets Thinking: Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004. Print.

Brantley, Richard.  Experience and Faith: The Late-Romantic Imagination of Emily Dickinson. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.Print.

Kirk, Connie. Emily Dickinson: A Biography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.Print.

Martin, Wendy. The Complementary Alternative MedicineCambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.2002.Print.

Farr, Judith. The Gardens of Emily Dickinson. Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England: Harvard University Press.2005.Print.

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