Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality.
Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1874) was an American poet who was almost unknown during her lifetime. Extremely reclusive by nature, just a handful of her poems were published by friends during her lifetime, and they were altered significantly to fit what they perceived to be the poetic conventions of the time. Remarkably, it was not until 1955 that a complete, unaltered collection of her poems was published, and she is now considered to be a major American poet.
Emily Dickinson was born on 10th December 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. She was born into a successful family with strong community ties, but she lived mostly an introverted, reclusive life.
After studying at the Amherst Academy for seven years, she spent a short time at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family’s house in Amherst. Thought of as an eccentric by the locals, she became known for her penchant for white clothing and her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of her friendships were therefore carried out by correspondence.
Although Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime. The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time.
Dickinson’s poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends. Although most of her acquaintances were probably aware of Dickinson’s writing, it was not until after her death in 1886, when Lavinia, Emily’s younger sister, discovered her cache of poems, that the breadth of Dickinson’s work became apparent.
Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, both of whom heavily edited the content. A complete and mostly unaltered collection of her poetry became available for the first time in 1955 when The Poems of Emily Dickinson was published by scholar Thomas H. Johnson. Despite unfavourable reviews and skepticism of her literary prowess during the late 19th and early 20th century, critics now consider Dickinson to be a major American poet. Emily Dickinson suffered a stroke and died on June 16, 1874, while in Boston.