Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1830. Her father was a lawyer and politician, and grandfather had established an academy and college there. Emily spent entire life in the place where she was born; she left Amherst only for one trip to Washington and two or three trip sto Boston. She soon began to withdraw from social life, and after 1862 she became a total recluse, who never left her house and even stopped seeing friends.
This withdrawal from the world was mainly the result of her personality, but it seems to have been affected by an unhappy love affair, the only relevant fact which marked her life: she developed a strong attachment for the Reverend Charles Wadsworth, a man of great culture who encouraged her spiritual development but, being married, could not return her affection. When he moved to San Francisco in 1862 she completely removed herself from society and spent her days in solitude in her room and in her garden, her refuge.
She wrote incessantly (she had starter writing poetry even before her withdrawal), and the most production period was in the early 1860s. Around this time she sent some of her poems to a famous critic, Thomas Higginson, who praised her poetry but suggested the use of conventional grammar. She refused to recise her poems and lost any interest in publication, but she considered him a friend and continued to exchange letters with him all her life. After her death in 1886 her sister found nearly 1800 poems, neatly placet in a local box.
Many of them were published in 1890, and the public deman encouraged the publication of a second series of the first decades of the 20th century, and by 1945 all her poetry had been brought to light. Further editions of her works appeared in the course of the century, demonstrating the lasting success of this shy, retiring, intensely spiritual woman.