“Anger as soon as fed is dead - 'Tis starving makes it fat. ”
“Success is counted sweetest by those who ne'er succeed.”
“They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse.”
“Saying nothing sometimes says the most.”
“We turn not older with years but newer every day.”
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts to and successful family. She lived a very introverted and reclusive life. She studied at the Amherst Academy for seven years and then spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before leaving. She was eccentric and was well-known for favoring white clothing as well as her reluctance to greet guests or even leave her room. Most of her friendships were maintained through correspondence. She was a creative poet although only a few of her works were actually published. Even of those few that were published, they were altered in order to better fit the conventions of the time. Her poems often lacked titles, had short lines, used slant rhyme and had odd capitalization and punctuation. They mostly featured death and immortality, two topics that were frequently discussed in her letters to friends. The first time her complete collection of poems, for the most part unaltered, was published in 1955, almost seventy years after her death in 1886.
Dickinson had a phobia of death that started from a young age. She was deeply traumatized when her second cousin and very close confidant, Sophia Holland tied from typhus. This deeply affected her because she felt as if she should die as well if she couldn't even look at or watch over her cousin.
She was very much influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson. She claimed that they had a very liberating effect on her. She was also affected by Lydia Maria Child's Letters from New York which was popular at the time. She stated, "This then is a book! And there are more of them!" She was also familiar with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Kavanagh which her brother had to smuggle into the house in case her father disapproved. She also read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. This had an untold effect on her as she named her first dog "Carlo" after the character St. John Rivers' dog. William Shakespeare was another great influence on her life.
Her life became more and more reclusive. She rarely travelled far from her home. She, along with her mother and sister, took a long trip that began in Washington and went to Philadelphia. In 1882, Dickinson's mother died and this furthered her seeming obsession with death and immortality. She started to withdraw more and more from the world and was only content when she was at home. She began writing more and more poetry in the seclusion of her home in 1858; writing nearly eight hundred poems. Around 1866, Dickinson rarely left her home. It is believed that the cause of this may have been too many personal losses that were too overwhelming for her to continue writing. She began to talk to guests through the door rather than face to face. She constantly wore white clothing. In contrast, she was very socially active through her correspondence. She would often leave notes, gifts or poems for any guests who visited her home. She was overcome with grief as tragedy after tragedy struck her family. First her brother, Austin, had a long standing affair with a married woman and caused him to distance himself from his family. Then her mother died on November 14, 1882. A year later, her nephew died of typhoid fever. She became ill and weak and eventually she died at the age of fifty-five. The cause of death was determined to be Bright's disease and it is believed that she suffered this disease for two and a half years. She was buried in a white coffin.