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Palgrave Macmillan

Emily Dickinson

A Literary Life

ISBN 9781137033055
Publication Date November 2013
Formats Hardcover Paperback Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Literary Lives

This literary biography study offers a comprehensive account of Emily Dickinson's life, as a poet as well as a daughter of a prominent Amherst, Massachusetts, family. For many years accompanied by her large dog, she well knew the worlds of nature and natural beauties. For many more years, she chronicled her life - especially her life of the imagination - in hundreds of letters, as well as the nearly 1,800 poems that have been found. Such rich material informs this book's narrative, building a picture of a woman loyal to her parents and her myriad of friends, as well as siblings, niece and nephews, and her sister-in-law Susan Gilbert Dickinson, her constant muse. Never content with passive acceptance, or a life that conformed to the dutiful unmarried daughter's role, Dickinson the poet worked all her mature life to bring her art to its consistently firm - and always brilliant - greatness.

Linda Wagner-Martin is Frank Borden Hanes Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. She has been a Guggenheim fellow, a Rockefeller awardee, and a resident at Bellagio, Bogliasco, and the Bunting Institute. She recently received the Hubbell Medal for lifetime service to American literature. Her 2013 A History of American Literature from 1950 to the Present is her 53rd book. She has written two other books for this series, one on Ernest Hemingway and the other, in both 1999 and 2003, on Sylvia Plath. She writes widely on twentieth-century American literature, biography, women's writing and pedagogy. Her publications include A Historical Guide to Ernest Hemingway (2000), William Faulkner: Six Decades of Criticism (2002), Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Hemingway: Eight Decades of Criticism (2009).

List of Illustrations
1. Reaching 1850
2. Dickinson's Search, to Find the Poem of Her Being
3. Losses into Art
4. Dickinson's Expanding Readership
5. Dickinson and War
6. Colonel Higginson as Mentor
7. Life Without Home, For the Last Time
8. Dickinson's Fascicles, Beginning and Endings
9. The Painful Interim
10. To Define Belief
11. 1865, The Late Miracle
12. Maintaining Urgency
13. Colonel Higginson, Appearing
14. 1870-1873
15. The Beginning of the Calendar of Deaths
16. Surviving Death
17. 'Mother's Hopeless Illness'
18. Courtships
19. 'The Poets light but Lamps'
20. The Loving Dickinson


"Palgrave Macmillan's 'Literary Lives' series exists not so much to answer intriguing biographical questions as to establish the link between the art and the life that gives rise to these questions. Wagner-Martin, with acclaimed biographies of Sylvia Plath and Zelda Fitzgerald to her credit, does a superb job here of teasing out the implications of that connection." — The Independent
"Reliable, accessible, and compact, this is a valuable book. Summing up: Highly recommended. All readers." — CHOICE
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