Today is Emily Dickinson's 139th birthday — God, you'd think she was a vampire! But, no, she sadly only lived 56 years, yet in that time she wrote 1,800 poems. Not bad. To honor the Belle of Amherst, we've collected 10 tidbits about her life.
- Emily left an all-female seminary, which is now Mount Holyoke College, after a year. Homesickness and poor health are speculated reasons, but another popular one is fear of punishment after refusing to publicly profess her faith to the Congregational church.
- She was engaged to Rev. George Gould, a student at Amherst College, but her wealthy father broke it off because he was just a poor student.
- Most likely the oft-cited affair she had with a married minister in Philadelphia was in fact her young love from Amherst, Rev. George Gould. It's believed that her disappointment upon returning home triggered her initial withdrawal from society.
- The last time she left Amherst, MA, was a trip to Boston 12 years before her death. There an eye doctor forbade her to read and write.
- She struck up a correspondence with Atlantic Monthly editor Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and they became lifelong friends. Their relationship is examined in White Heat, a December must read.
To see the other five, read more