Born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson was the daughter of a prominent local family. Known in the community for being an eccentric, she rarely left her home and most of her contact with the outside world was through letter correspondence with friends.
Unbeknown to most, she was a prolific poet; indeed, she composed some 1800, though only a dozen were ever published in her lifetime. Much of her work covered themes of faith, death, flowers, and employed unusual grammar and syntax for the day. Because of this, they were heavily edited by anthologies, and after her death on May 15, 1886, by her family. It was not until nearly half a century later that her works would be published unedited. Today, she is considered one of the most innovative and influential of American poets.
A large amount of her work can be found here.
The Woman In White
- Cloudcuckoolander: not only in her lifestyle, but also her works were so innovative the contemporary publishers "corrected" them.
- Dead Artists Are Better: In the very few instances she tried to publish a poem, they would always modify it or turn her down. Other than that, no one even knew about her poems at all until after she died and they found piles of them hidden in her room.
- Executive Meddling: Editors, and later her descendants, would change her work to be more in line with the style of contemporary works.
- Loners Are Freaks
- Punctuation Shaker: One of the defining styles of her work.
- Nightmare Fetishist: One of her longer poems seems to be describing her being courted by Death incarnate.
- No Title: Most of her poems are identified by their first line.
- Reclusive Artist: Even when she was younger she only left her hometown a handful of times. Eventually she seemed to stop leaving her house that often because of her parent's health. Eventually she stopped leaving her room altogether, and communicated to servants and guests through her bedroom door. At the same time, she was still living a very social and active life, and frequently wrote letters to her friends, sent gifts to visitors, and spoiled her sibling's children.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: It's theorized that Emily may have had romantic feelings for her friend, Sue Gilbert, who would later marry Emily's brother. She would write letters to Sue detailing how she had thoughts and feelings for her that make her feel feverish and her heart to start racing.
- Shrinking Violet
- The World Is Just Awesome: Her poems describe the world and nature as an amazing intense beauty, which overwhelms her too much to handle it all for too long.
- Woman in White: A trademark of Dickinson, though one of the only known images of her seems to be one of the very few times she ever wore something besides her white dress.