Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. She attended Amherst Academy for two years and Holyoke Female Seminary for one year. At Amherst Academy, Emily met the principal named Leonard Humphrey, and he gave her her interest in books. But it also seems as if a law student, Benjamin F. Newton, gave her her love of literature as well.
For most of her life, Emily was a recluse, staying in her house by herself and never really coming out or seeing anybody. Her one true acquaintance was Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who published her poetry after her death. It was in the 1850's that Emily is thought to have begun her poetry, but it wasn't till 1858 that she began writing her poems in ink and put them in little booklets (meaning they were worthy enough for her to keep forever).
In May 1855, it is thought that Emily met a man named Charles Wadsworth who touched off an explosion of her creative poems in the early 1860's. A number of letters to Wadsworth were found among her poems.
Although Emily was considered a recluse most of her life, her last years were even more reclusive. She spent her days baking bread, tending her garden, and staring out the window. She grew obsessed with death, almost as if she knew that her time would come soon. Legends were even begun about her: the woman in white and the eccentric recluse.
Emily Dickinson died on May 15, 1886 of Bright's disease, leaving behind over 2,000 poems that were published by Higginson after her death. Many of her poems are compared today to those of to Henry David Thoreau, for her writing seems to echo how he wanted to live. Stated by Tombstone(see Bibliography): "close to the bone, concentrating on the very essence of what she saw and felt in phrases that strike and penetrate like bullets, and with an originality of thought unsurpassed in American poetry."
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