Today we celebrate the birthday of Emily Dickinson! Considered one of the finest American poets (and literary recluses), Dickinson wrote thousands of poems in her lifetime, though most were unpublished until after her death.


A Book

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

– Emily Dickson



1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4.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.

5. 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.


If you are interested in history and poetry check out The Writers Almanac where you can read and listen to poetry read allowed by Garrison Keillor!


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