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Emily Dickenson

Emily Dickinson, regarded as one of America’s greatest poets, is also known for her life of self-imposed social seclusion. Her lifestyle created an aura, often romanticised, and frequently a source of interest and speculation. But ultimately Emily Dickinson is remembered for her unique poetry. Within short, compact phrases she expressed far-reaching ideas, questioning the nature of immortality and death. Amidst paradox and uncertainty, her poetry has an undeniable capacity to move and provoke.

Emily Dickinson was born on 10th December, 1830, in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts. As a child, Emily proved to be a bright student. She delighted classmates with her original writings of rhyming stories. Emily’s father was strict in bringing up his children. Emily said of her father: “His heart was pure and terrible.” He censored household reading materials; Walt Whitman for example was considered “too inappropriate” and novels had to be smuggled into the house.

At a young age, she said she wished to be the “best little girl.” However despite her attempts to please and be well thought of, she was also independently minded.

Because of her discomfort in social situations, Emily gradually reduced her social contacts, going out less and less into society. By her late twenties, this led to an almost complete seclusion; she spent most of her time in the family house. Still, she maintained close personal relationships through letters, and penned more than 1,700 poems, which were published after her death. She had instructed her sister to burn all her letters. Not specifying poems, those, luckily, were spared. There are only a few known photos of Emily. No doubt many of her secrets were kept from history.

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