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Emily Dickinson, recognized as one of the greatest American poets of the nineteenth century, was born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts (Benfey, 1). Dickinson’s greatness and accomplishments were not always recognized. In her time, women were not recognized as serious writers and her talents were often ignored. Only seven of her 1800 poems were ever published. Dickinson’s life was relatively simple, but behind the scenes she worked as a creative and talented poet. Her work was influenced by poets of the seventeenth century in England, and by her puritan upbringing. Dickinson was an obsessively private writer. Dickinson withdrew herself from the social contract around the age of thirty and devoted herself, in secret, to writing. She never married, finding in her poetry, reading, gardening, and close friendships, a rich and fulfilling life.
Emily grew up with a privileged childhood. She was the eldest daughter of Edward Dickinson, a successful lawyer, member of congress, and for many years treasurer of Amherst College. Her father gave here the time, and literary education, as well as confidence to try her hand at free verse. Emily’s mother, Emily Norcross Dickinson, was a submissive, timid housewife dedicated to her husband, children, and household chores. The Dickinson’s only son, William Austin, also a lawyer, succeeded his father as treasurer of the college. Their youngest child, Lavina, was the chief housekeeper and, like her sister, Emily, remained a home, unmarried, all her life. A sixth member who was added to the family in 1856 was Susan Gilbert, a schoolmate of Emily’s, who married Austin and moved into the house next door the Dickinson home which they called Homestead. Emily and Susan were very close friends and confidantes, until Susan and Austin’s marriage. It was at this time that Susan stopped respo!
nding to the notes and poems that were often exchanged between the two ( ). Emily’s letters to Su...
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