Cambridge Encyclopedia » Cambridge Encyclopedia Vol. 23

Emily (Elizabeth) Dickinson - Poetry and influence, Biography, Music

poems amherst life thomas

Poet, born in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. She attended Amherst Academy (1840–7), Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (1847–8), and lived in Amherst all her life. She met the Reverend Charles Wadsworth in Philadelphia (1854), and he may have been the inspiration for some of her love poems. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a former minister and author, seems to have been her literary mentor, as indicated in an extended correspondence beginning in 1862. Speculation continues regarding her personal life, but it is noted that she became a recluse c.1862, and apparently died from the complications of uremia. Only two of her poems were published in her lifetime. Her sister, Lavinia Dickinson, discovered hundreds of her poems after her death and they were published in selections from 1890 onwards. The first authoritative edition, The Poems of Emily Dickinson (3 vols), edited by Thomas H Johnson, did not appear until 1955. She is known for her poignant, compressed, and deeply charged poems, which have profoundly influenced the direction of 20th-c poetry and gained her an almost cult following among some.

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