Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet. Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, although part of a prominent family with strong ties to its community, Dickinson lived much of her life in reclusive isolation. After studying at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, considered an eccentric by locals, she developed a noted penchant for white clothing and became known for her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, to even leave her bedroom. Dickinson never married, and most friendships between her and others depended entirely upon correspondence, Dickinson was a recluse for the later years of her life. While Dickinson was a private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime. The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional rules of the time. Dickinsons poems are unique for the era in which she wrote, they contain short lines, typically lack titles, many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, a complete, and mostly unaltered, collection of her poetry became available for the first time when scholar Thomas H. Johnson published The Poems of Emily Dickinson in 1955. Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born at the homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 10,1830, into a prominent. Her father, Edward Dickinson was a prominent lawyer in Amherst, two hundred years earlier, her patrilineal ancestors had arrived in the New World—in the Puritan Great Migration—where they prospered. Emily Dickinsons paternal grandfather, Samuel Dickinson, had almost single-handedly founded Amherst College, in 1813, he built the homestead, a large mansion on the towns Main Street, that became the focus of Dickinson family life for the better part of a century. On May 6,1828, he married Emily Norcross from Monson and they had three children, William Austin, known as Austin, Aust or Awe Emily Elizabeth Lavinia Norcross, known as Lavinia or Vinnie By all accounts, young Emily was a well-behaved girl. On an extended visit to Monson when she was two, Emilys Aunt Lavinia described Emily as perfectly well & contented—She is a good child &. Emilys aunt also noted the affinity for music and her particular talent for the piano. Dickinson attended primary school in a building on Pleasant Street. Her education was ambitiously classical for a Victorian girl and her father wanted his children well-educated and he followed their progress even while away on business. When Emily was seven, he wrote home, reminding his children to school, and learn, so as to tell me. While Emily consistently described her father in a manner, her correspondence suggests that her mother was regularly cold
The Dickinson children (Emily on the left), ca. 1840. From the Dickinson Room at Houghton Library, Harvard University.
The Evergreens, built by Edward Dickinson, was the home of Austin and Susan's family