Emily Dickinson: Biography

Emily Dickinson

10 dec 1830

Emily Dickinson was an American poet who was born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830. She was the daughter of reputable but by no means wealthy family. She was a highly introverted character, considered eccentric by most of her local community. She lived a solitary life, with most of her friendships and relationships being based on letter correspondence. This act of letter writing was incredibly important in forming her written voice. She wrote beautiful letters which were very poetic in themselves.

Dickinson wrote a huge number of poems, nearly 2000, over the course of her career, yet only around 10 of them were ever published during her lifetime. She wrote poetry which was considered unconventional for its time, and the few poems which were published whilst she was alive were subjected to heavy editing.

Dickinson’s poems are categorised by their short lines, seemingly ad hoc capitalisation and punctuation, slant rhyme and lack of titles. These characteristics are what mean that Dickinson’s poems are still read, enjoyed and studied today, but are also what alienated her from the rest of the literary community during her lifetime.

Dickinson died in 1886, and the first collection of her poems was published 4 years later in 1890. Whilst going through Dickinson’s possessions after her death, Dickinson’s sister Lavinia found the archive of her poetry and decided to publish it. This was despite making a promise to Emily that she would burn her papers upon her death.

After having been bedbound for several months, Emily Dickinson died in 1885, aged 55.