Fun Emily Dickinson Facts

There are very few Emily Dickinson facts that can shed a bright light on the inner workings of the talented poet. Dickinson was extremely reclusive and what little people do know about her comes mostly from her poetry and letters.

Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 and died in 1886. She published less than a dozen poems during her lifetime, none of which carried her name. The bulk of her work was not discovered and published until after her death.

Emily Dickinson Facts

  • Education. Emily Dickinson came from a family that believed strongly in educating both men and women. Her grandfather had even been one of the founders of Amherst College. She was a strong student and a highly intelligent woman. However, personal problems caused her to leave Mount Holyoke Female Seminary after only a year of college study. She never returned to school.
  • Religion. Emily Dickinson was brought up in a strict Calvinist home that focused heavily on the concept of original sin. Astonishingly, especially considering her demure nature, Dickinson openly questioned Calvinistic principles. Though a religious woman, she questioned original sin and showed a deep exploration of spirituality in her poems.
  • Isolation. Emily Dickinson seemed to be shy and reclusive for most of her life. As a result, by the late 1860s, she no longer left the boundaries of her family home. She would shutter herself away in her room when visitors called and only spoke by shouting through the door. However, she did correspond with friends through avid letter writing.
  • Poetry. Emily Dickinson published less than a dozen poems in her life. However, after Dickinson's death, her sister found a cache of over 1,700 poems Dickinson had written. The first book containing some of her work was published in 1893 to rave reviews. As Dickinson's body of work slowly came to light, her memory was transformed from a strange recluse to one of the best known American poets to have ever lived.
  • Gardening. Emily Dickinson not only loved writing and reading, she loved nature. She was an avid gardener and used many horticultural references in her poetry. She wrote passionately about various flowers and created her own immaculate herbarium with more than 400 samples. A herbarium, a popular pastime in the 1800s, was a book filled with pressed and labeled samples of plants and flowers.
  • Appearance. There is only one authenticated photo of Emily Dickinson in existence. It shows a pretty 17 year old girl with big eyes, dark hair and a humble style. Dickinson seemed to maintain this simple style for her entire life. The only other clue we have to her appearance after the age of 17 is that she was known for always wearing white dresses.
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