Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was one of America’s greatest poets, but most of what she wrote wasn’t discovered until after her death. She was a recluse for most of her adult life. While she rarely left her house, she composed many poems about the outside world as well as the small world in which she lived.
Emily had a fairly normal childhood, going to school with her brother and sister. She enjoyed reading and writing and learning all about science. Once she left home to attend Mt. Holyoke, Emily stopped enjoying school. When she returned home, she was expected to take on part of the work at the house in preparation for her future life as a housewife. She was not happy with this change, and she rejected any idea of marriage, pledging herself to poetry instead.
Emily did help her family with housework and eventually cared for her aging mother. But mostly, she wrote poems and letters. When Emily died, her sister found 1,800 poems in Emily’s room, and Emily’s friend Thomas Wentworth Higginson published them in 1890.
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