Emily Dickinson Fact File: Lifespan: 1830 - 1886 *** Full Name: Emily Elizabeth Dickinson *** Occupation: American Poet *** Date of Birth: She was born on December 10th 1830 *** Place of Birth: She was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, America *** Family background: Her father was Edward Dickinson was treasurer of Amherst College and her mother was Emily Norcross. She had an older an older brother, William, and a younger sister, Lavinia. The family was prominent if not wealthy *** Early life and childhood: She grew up in Amherst and would spend her whole life living there *** Education: She began her education at a primary school, a classical education for a young Victorian girl. Her father felt education was very important, even for girls. By September 1840 both Emily and her sister Lavinia attended Amherst Academy having begun to accept female students two years previously.
Emily Dickinson Fact 1: She was born during the 19th century saw huge leaps in science discoveries and invention and saw much groundwork for the development for upcoming technologies of the 20th century.
Emily Dickinson Fact 2: Once she had completed her education at Amherst, totaling seven years, she would go on to attend Mary Lyon’s Mount Holyoke Female Seminary where she befriend the young principal, Leonard Humphrey, before returning to the family home.
Emily Dickinson Fact 3: From very early on she was a child that felt emotions very deeply.
Emily Dickinson Fact 4: When she was fourteen yours old her cousin, Sophia became incurably ill with typhus. She died in April of 1844 and Emily was utterly devastated.
Emily Dickinson Fact 5: So utterly distraught was she that he parents sent her to live in Boston for a time to recover.
Emily Dickinson Fact 6: The following year a religious revival was sweeping the country and it would have profound effect on her in a very positive way.
Emily Dickinson Fact 7: When she was in her eighteenth year her family made the acquaintance of and friendship with Benjamin Franklin Newton, a young attorney. Together with Humphrey these two slightly older men would hold a very deep friendship with Emily.
Emily Dickinson Fact 8: It would be in the year of 1846 that Leonard Humphrey would be struck down with tuberculosis and died, again leaving her completely distraught.
Emily Dickinson Fact 9: Her acquaintance with Newton meant a new avenue for literature, he introduced her to Lydia Maria Child’s, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Charlotte Bronte. She even named her only pet, a Newfoundland dog, after the dog in Jane Eyre.
Emily Dickinson Fact 10: She wrote of her grief after the loss of Humphrey “…some of my friends are gone, and some of my friends sleeping – sleeping in the churchyard sleep – the hour of evening is sad – it was once my study hour – my master has gone to rest, and the open leaf of the book, and the scholar at school alone, make the tears come, and I cannot brush them away; I would not if I could, for they are the only tribute I can pay the departed Humphrey,”
Emily Dickinson Fact 11: Her very strongest bond was with that of her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert with whom she corresponded with often, some three hundred letters.
Emily Dickinson Fact 12: In 1855 she had never been far from her beloved home, but a trip to the capital of Washington where her father attended as congressman for Massachusetts. Moving on to Philadelphia she met Charles Wadsworth, Arch Street Presbyterian Church’s famous minister with whom she formed another very strong friendship.
Emily Dickinson Fact 13: Her mother would become bedridden and she would look after her. In 1874 further devastating news befell her when she heard her father had died suddenly of a stroke in Boston, his body would be brought home to rest and in passed in 1882 her mother would pass, leaving her more relieved than grieved for her lack of further suffering.
Emily Dickinson Fact 14: Her next loss would come the following year in the untimely death of her favorite nephew, Gilbert, who suddenly took with typhoid fever.
Emily Dickinson Fact 15: After this she sought solace in her poems as always she did but this time she answered an article in The Atlantic Monthly written by Thomas Wentworth Higgins requesting literary guidance that no else could give.
Emily Dickinson Fact 16: Another friendship was born but one that would remain except for one meeting, to a friendship in correspondence only.
Emily Dickinson Fact 17: Not long after her father’s passing she made what could have been a romantic acquaintance of Otis Phillips Lord, a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court judge from Salem, quite an elderly widower but there was never any supreme proof.
Emily Dickinson Fact 18: Having been overshadowed by death her whole life it was no wonder her poetry reflected heavily on how she felt. In 1884 she wrote “The Dyings have been too deep for me, and before I could raise my Heart from one, another has come.”
Emily Dickinson Fact 19: In the summer of 1884 while baking in the kitchen she fainted and remained unconscious for many hours. She remained in her sickbed, other symptoms and feebleness overcame her.
Emily Dickinson Fact 20: The following spring she rallied briefly in flutter of letter writing before her symptoms worsened and on May the 15th 1886 her breathing ceased.
Emily Dickinson Fact 21: Her official cause of death was registered by a chief physician as Bright’s disease. She was laid to rest with her family at West Cemetery on Triangle Street.
Emily Dickinson Fact 22: It is believed her final letter was to her cousins Frances and Louise Norcross and read simply “Little Cousins, Called Back. Emily”.
Influence & Legacy: It would not be until after her death the extent of her work would be discovered. Her sister Lavinia had been made to promise to burn all of her correspondence after her death for which she dutifully carried out her promise. No instructions had been left with regard to her notebooks or loose sheets, collected in a chest that had been locked. Lavinia became obsessed when she realized the value of these missives and sought advice on how to get them published. Eventually they would see publication but it would not be until 1955 that a complete works would be published and later a collection of her letters would also see publication.
Important Events of the 19th century and during the life of Emily Dickinson include: The end of the Spanish Inquisition, Samuel Colt of Connecticut receives a patent for his revolver in the United States as well as Europe, Texas is recognizes Texas as independent and Abraham Lincoln becomes the 16th President of the United States.
List of Famous Works by Emily Dickinson:
*** A Bee is burnished Carriage *** A Bird came down the Walk *** A Clock stopped *** A Death blow is a Life blow to Some *** A Diamond on the Hand *** A face devoid of love or grace *** A great Hope fell *** A House upon the Height *** A loss of something ever felt I *** A moth the hue of this *** A Pit – but Heaven over it *** Afraid! Of whom am I afraid? ***