The Life of Emily Dickinson


Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, is one of the most influential and well known poets. On December 10, 1830, Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. Dickinson’s father was a young and ambitious lawyer, working at his father’s law firm. She grew up in the family home built by Samuel Dickinson, Emily’s grandfather, in 1813, with her two siblings, William Austin Dickinson and half sister Lavinia Norcross Dickinson. Emily Dickinson and her two siblings went to a one room primary school in Amherst, then moved on to Amherst Academy, the school out of which Amherst College was created. Emily Dickinson acceded in all aspects of school, she loved all the teachers, curriculum, and her fellow students. Amherst Academy prided itself on the connection they had with Amherst College, offering students access to classes such as astronomy, botany, chemistry, geology, mathematics, natural history, natural philosophy, and zoology. Dickinson’s poems had recurring mentions of such studies in her poems. After seven years at Amherst, Dickenson spent a year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Dickonson left school as a teenager, eventually living on the Homestead as a recluse. Once Emily Dickinson left school she spent her days secretly writing bundles and bundles of poems, later to be discovered after Emily’s death on May 15, 1886, by Lavinia.

Though Emily Dickinson led a reclusive life, she had one close friend: Susan Gilbert. She and Gilbert were very close growing up. Susan Gilbert married William, Dickinson’s brother, in 1856. Shortly after her brother’s marriage to Susan, Emily and Lavinia took the role of chief caregivers for their ailing mother, who passed away in 1882. Lavina and Emily Dickinson remained unmarried and never left the homestead.  Dickinson’s final years have been under speculation. Scholars are considering the ideas, Dickinson may have been suffering from agoraphobia, depression and/or anxiety causing her isolation from society. Dickinson was also sequestered during her time helping her sick and fragile mother and treated for painful ailments of her eyes. After the mid 1860’s she stayed within the bounds of the Homestead, hardly ever leaving. On May 15, 1886, Dickinson passed away from Kidney disease at the age of 55. Dickinson was laid to rest at a family burial site in West Cemetery. After Dickinson’s death her sister Lavinia found her poems and published the first book in 1890. All of Dickinson’s poems were published in 1955. Now Dickinson’s childhood home is a museum, dedicated to Emily Dickinson’s life and poems.