Emily Dickinson Influences

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830 in Amherst Massachusetts. Emily Dickinson is known for her unusual poetry- which is controversial because it does not rhyme and the ordering of the lines are not conventional. Emily Dickinson died on May 15, 1886 at age 55 from Bright’s disease (inflammation of the kidneys). Emily Dickinson’s father Edward Dickinson brought Emily to Philadelphia in the 1850s to see if she could be treated for a physical ailment.

She was diagnosed with hysteria but no treatment proved effective. Emily Dickinson grew up with an older brother named William Austin who Emily called “the Major”. Emily Dickinson’s sister Lavinia also lived with Emily growing up helping take care of their younger brother whom they left home alone when Emily and Lavinia were away. Emily Dickinson’s father remarried to a woman Emily did not like named Susan Gilbert who Emily referred to as “Mrs. Jim” in her letters. Emily Dickinson wrote one novel titled “Master Letters”.

Emily Dickinson’s parents sent Emily to the Amherst Academy where Emily won awards for her writing ability though she was shy at school. Emily’s cousin, John Norcross visited Emily often where he brought with him an anthology of poetry that included works by Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Elizabeth Barret Browning whom Emily admired much later on in life. When Emily left home after graduating from the Amherst Academy she went to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary where Emily was a good student and Emily admired Mary Lyon.

Emily Dickinson’s parents sent Emily to a school in Boston for three months where Emily studied French literature and language, drama, composition, and history. Emily Dickinson’s relatives were either abolitionists or pro-slavery which influenced Emily greatly as she began writing her poetry around age twelve. Emily Dickinson fell out with many of the members of her family over time because Emily did not like Susan Gilbert (whom married Emilys father) and Emily was against slavery however Emily’s sister Lavinia sided with their father when he said that slaves were happy in their roles.

The Civil War broke out when Emily was seventeen years old; while some members of her family enlisted to fight Emily chose not to. Emily Dickinson wrote a letter to the president of the United States at the time, Abraham Lincoln, thanking him for signing the emancipation order that freed slaves in 1863. Emily Dickinson’s father ran a private school where Emily occasionally worked as a teacher’s assistant. Emily also gave lectures to students on various literary works including “Beowulf” and Chaucer’s poetry.

Emily took classes at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary with her sister Lavinia; Emily was tutored by Helen Hunt who Emily never got along with. Emily Dickinson’s first poem was published anonymously in 1847 after which Emily had three volumes of poetry published (Poems: Series 1 , Poems: Series 2 , Poems: Series 3 ). Emily Dickinson’s most famous poems include: “Because I could not stop for Death…”, “I heard a Fly buzz…”, and “Wild Nights – Wild Nights! “.

Emily befriended her teacher Emily Fowler who Emily lived with after Emily’s father passed away in 1882. Emily died on May 15, 1886 at the age of 55 because of Bright’s disease (inflammation of the kidneys). Different influences that have affected Emily Dickinson are Emily’s family, the Civil War, poetry, books she read by other poets, life events, and different people she met along the way. Emily Dickinson’s poetry is unique to others because it does not rhyme or have any conventional form which distinguishes Emily from many other poets.

The Civil War influenced Emily Dickinson by Emily watching her family members enlist to fight and Emily not wanting to fight herself. Emily Dickinson read books by other poets which influenced Emily because Emily admired poetry from Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, and Elizabeth Barret Browning whom Emily later wrote poems about. Several people had an effect on Emily Dickinson’s life such as people Emily befriended or disliked at a younger age where those interactions shaped who Emily would become as a person.

Emily’s father Edward Dickinson and her mother Emily Norcross had married in 1828 and Emily was their second child and first daughter. Emily had one brother William Austin who was seven years older than Emily. Emily was educated by tutors at home and was a child who grew up being secluded from society. Emily’s father earned his money from lawyering and Emily lived their family income of it to the fullest, including Emily’s education which turned out very well for Emily because Emily became one of the greatest poets to ever exist.

Although Emily did not receive much socializing form other people Emily went to social gatherings where Emily would sit in a corner and observe the people around her. Emily had family members from her father’s side of the family who were very progressive thinkers and wrote poetry, Emily took a lot of what she saw growing up from these encounters with them and they influenced Emily to write about things that Emily probably would not have written about if it wasn’t for Emily’s Uncle Charles Wadsworth or Aunt Sarah Anna Norcross, Emily’s brother William Austin also influenced Emily because he was an artist at heart just like Emily.

One thing that can be said is that during this time period Emily Dickinson did not receive much attention towards her writing but then all of a sudden in 1890 after Emily died there was a letter published in The Springfield Republican saying Emily Dickinson was a great poet. Another thing that Emily Dickinson had experienced as a child was the loss of her friends and family members who were slowly dying from diseases such as tuberculosis which Emily would take these experiences and use them to inspire Emily’s poems. Emily also had two friends Abiah Root and Susan Gilbert who Emily wrote about in Emily’s poetry quite often.

These were relationships that Emily could understand because they were friendships between women and Emily did not have many relationships with people due to Emily secluding herself from society, but it can be said that at one point Emily might have been romantically attracted to Susan Gilbert but never had the courage to say anything about it. After spending some time away from home during her life Emily Dickinsons health started to decline Emily returned home and eventually Emily passed away from a stroke on May 15th 1886.

Emily Dickinson’s Poems were not published until after Emily’s death, Emily had written over 1800 poems. Before Emily passed away she gave her sister Lavinia the task of sorting out Emily’s manuscripts and Emily instructed her not to show anyone what Emily had written but later on in life Emily’s sister started showing some of Emily’s work to people. Then in 1890 a letter was published in The Springfield Republican from someone who wanted to know who this great poet was that wrote such beautiful poetry, the rest is history.

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