Emily Dickenson is considered to be one of America's greatest
poets. She was born in Massachusetts in 1830 to Edward Dickinson
a State legislator. Emily played piano as a young girl and
received a quality education at Amherst Academy.
Emily Dickinson would become obsessed with death at the age
of 14 when her second cousin died of typhus. This experience
awakened a depression that would shape her life and her work
as a poet.
At the age of 18, Dickinson became familiar with the writings
of William Wordsworth and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Seeing how
these famous men had used words for their own personal expression
inspired Dickinson to do the same. She turned to poetry as
an outlet for the turmoil and angst that existed inside her.
Dickinson's education had exposed her to many other great
works from which she would draw inspiration such as the Bible,
Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Longfellow's Kavanagh, and the
work of Shakespeare.
Dickinson had a charismatic personality and secured many
friendships throughout her life. However, she preferred to
live in solitude withdrawn from social life. Between 1858
and 1865, while in her thirties, Dickinson wrote nearly eight
hundred poems that she put together into six different works.
These books were not discovered until after Dickinson's death.
Also during this time, Dickinson wrote at least three letters
in a series called "The Master Letters". No one
knows for certain how or why these letters came to be. The
complexity and artistry of the language in these letters have
created one of the great mysteries in American Literature.
To this day, the meaning and purpose of the letters are analyzed
Another great mystery revolves around why Dickinson withdrew
from society to live in seclusion more and more with her advancing
age. Her depression and fascination with death has led to
theories that she may have suffered from an anxiety driven
social disorder such as agoraphobia. Although she spent much
of her time alone, the solitude helped to produce her most
productive writing periods. The time she spent writing and
self-editing created her legacy.
Her poetry has become famous because of its unconventional
style. Opposite of the flowery language and grand themes that
were common for poetry of that time, Dickinson was blunt and
creatively turned the everydayness of life into great art.
Non-conformity defined the way Dickinson led her life.
Because she was born into a family with political and public
stature, perhaps her rebellious nature also contributed to
her depression. Her relationship with her mother was constrained
and unemotional, yet, Dickinson would care for her sickly
mother until she died. It seems that Dickinson wanted a life
filled with the joy, love and freedom that was not to be found
in her particular situation. Dickinson poured out her experiences
with disappointment and despair into her writing.
With the death of her mother and her father, by 1884, Dickinson
found herself surrounded by a darkness that she couldn't come
out of. She suffered miserably and died in 1886 at the age
of 55. Dickinson had asked her sister to promise to burn all
of her work after her death. Even though many works were destroyed,
the nearly 2000 works that survived live on today as one of
poetry's greatest bodies of work. Emily Dickinson is one of
the most famous women poets the world has ever experienced.
There is a secret
you don't know
Besides the factual Emily Dickinson biography presented above
there is a dirty little secret that needs to be exposed. The
secret is that Emily Dickinson suffered from both irritable
bowel syndrome and Mad Cow Disease which is why she spent
so much time in seclusion.