Written by Selina

Modified & Updated: 24 Jan 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith

Emily Dickinson grey scale portrait

If you’ve studied literature before, then Emily Dickinson should not be unfamiliar to you. Also known as the Belle of Amherst, Emily is one of America’s most celebrated and enigmatic poets. Her unique poetic style, unconventional lifestyle, and the mysteries surrounding her personal life make her a figure of enduring fascination. She may just be the Shakespeare of poetry. In this article, we look into 15 interesting facts about Emily Dickinson that will deepen your understanding of this literary icon.

Table of Contents

She was extremely prolific.

During her lifetime, Emily Dickinson penned nearly 1,800 poems, a remarkable feat considering her secluded lifestyle. This is a testament to her relentless creativity. If she’d written books, we are sure she’d be one of the most famous authors.

Most of her work was published posthumously.

Despite her prolific writing, less than a dozen of Dickinson’s poems were published during her lifetime. In fact, only 10 of her works were published in newspapers. It was only after her death that we discovered the true extent of her work.

She rarely left her family home.

Emily Dickinson is famous for her reclusive lifestyle. From her late twenties until her death, she rarely ventured beyond her family’s property in Amherst, Massachusetts. Thus, she earned the nickname “The Myth” since her existence was very much like one.

Emily often wrote on scraps of paper.

Dickinson was known to pen her poems on whatever was at hand. This included envelopes and receipts, illustrating her spontaneous and passionate approach to writing.

Dickinson never married.

Despite several close relationships, Emily never married. However, she explored the themes of love and passion in her poems, which is why many speculate about her personal experiences and emotions. Here’s a famous Emily Dickinson quote on love that you may know:

“To love is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”

emily dickinson quotes about love and hope
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She was an avid gardener.

Emily always had a passion for gardening and maintained an extensive garden at her Amherst home. She features the theme of nature prominently in her poetry, no doubt influenced by her love of gardening. One may even think she was more into gardening than poetry.

Dickinson’s dressing was a topic of interest.

This may be one of the most surprising facts about Emily Dickinson herself. Famously, Emily Dickinson tends to dress in white in the later parts of her life. The reason behind this wardrobe choice remains a mystery, adding to her enigmatic persona.

She had a close relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson had a close, and to some, a controversial relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Dickinson. Susan was also the most frequent recipient of Emily’s letters and poems.

Dickinson’s first collection was published four years after her death.

In 1890, Emily’s first collection of poetry was published after her sister Lavinia found her vast collection of poems.

The words poetry and the name of the poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) are written in letters like a crossword puzzle, next to it is a dried leaf in the style of the poet's herbarium
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Dickinson’s poems are noted for their unconventional punctuations.

Dickinson’s poetry is renowned for its unusual use of dashes and capitalization. These quirks add a unique rhythm and emphasis to her work, making her poems instantly recognizable.

Dickinson’s poems were initially heavily edited.

Because of her unconventional use of punctuation and capitalization, Dickison’s poems were heavily edited by early editors who tried to regulate them. It was not until the 1955 publication of Thomas H. Johnson’s “The Poems of Emily Dickinson” that her original style was fully restored.

Emily Dickinson’s poetry was influenced by Metaphysical poets.

Dickinson’s poetry, with its focus on nature, mortality, and the metaphysical, reflects the influence of 17th-century Metaphysical poets, including John Donne.

She died of heart failure.

According to researchers, the symptoms Dickinson exhibited on her deathbed resemble hypertension, leading them to believe she passed on due to heart failure.

Emily Dickinson colored portrait
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She is buried in her hometown.

Dickinson lived her entire life in Amherst, Massachusetts, and it is there she is buried. Her tombstone bears the simple epitaph, “Called Back”. The Homestead, which is where Emily Dickinson was born, is now a museum, a dedicated biography to remember her.

Final Word

Despite living much of her life in seclusion, Dickinson’s insights into nature, love, death, and the human condition resonate with people around the world. Her poetry, characterized by its unique structure and profound depth, has left an indelible mark on American literature.

From her vast collection of poems to her mysterious all-white attire, every aspect of Emily Dickinson’s life and work sparks interest and speculation. She remains, without a doubt, one of the most intriguing figures in American literature.

In the end, Emily Dickinson’s world, as encapsulated in her poetry, continues to enthrall and inspire, proving that her work is truly timeless. Emily Dickinson’s death has only sparked a new generation of American literature that perseveres to today. So, whether you’re a long-time Dickinson aficionado or a curious newcomer to her work, there’s always something new and intriguing to discover about this extraordinary poet.

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