Emily Dickinson

Poet, Author

1830 – 1886

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Who was Emily Dickinson?

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family's house in Amherst. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence.

While Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime. The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.

Famous Quotes:

  • A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.
  • Fame is a fickle food upon a shifting plate.
  • The abdication of belief makes the behavior small -- better an ignis fatuus than no illume at all.
  • Dying is a wild night and a new road.
  • Luck is not chance, it is toil. Fortune is expensive smile is earned.
  • Finite to fail, but infinite to venture.
  • His Labor is a Chant -- his Idleness -- a Tune -- oh, for a Bee's experience of Clovers, and of Noon!
  • Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves and immortality.
  • Success is counted sweetest by those who never succeed.
  • Tell the truth, but tell it slant.

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Dec 10, 1830
Also known as
  • Emily Elizabeth Dickinson
  • Dickinson, Emily
  • United States of America
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Amherst College
Lived in
  • Amherst
  • Massachusetts
May 15, 1886

on July 23, 2013


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