Emily Dickinson, now one of the pre-eminent poets of all American literture, actually lived a rather quiet life, having obtained fame for her works only after her death. Although Emily was reputedly a recluse during her last years of life, she came from one of the most influential families in Amherst, Massachusetts, where the poet was born on December 10, 1830. Amherst College in fact owes its foundation partly to her grandfather; Emily's own father also served the college, as well as several political positions that include the U. S. House of Representatives. Mrs. Dickinson, whom Emily was named after, was a more retiring figure than her husband, being Chronically ill.
The majority of Emily Dickinson's life centered in Amherst. The poet's education was an impressive one; she had the opportunity to attend Amherst Academy at ten years of age, where her mind feasted on such subjects as Latin, history, classical literature, religion, and sciences like geology. Emily's poetry relfects a scholarliness that is undoubtedly the influence of her excellent training. She briefly attended Mary Lyon's Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1847, but withdrew from her studies there for reasons that remain unknown. During the remainder of her life, Emily rarely left her parents home except to make occasional visits to relatives around New England. Herein lies her rather peculiar reputation, and whether she was a complete recluse or merely indisposed to much society has been questioned. Regardless, Emily Dickinson did share a close relationship with her family and a few friends; her constant seclusion further afforded her with ample time to create her reknowned works, through which modern readers may glimpse into the personality of this somewhat shrouded figure. Emily Dickinson died of Bright's disease, or nephritis, on May 15, 1886. Her poetry, exceeding 800 poems, was published posthumously by her family, and her work still holds a place of honor in American literature more than a century later.
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