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Emily Dickinson Biographies and Criticism


Emily Dickinson, a creative poet of the 19th century, was known only by a small circle during her lifetime. It wasn't until after her death that most of her poems were published. Her life and work still fascinate readers and are studied widely. Listed here alphabetically by title.

1. The Diary of Emily Dickinson

The Diary of Emily Dickinson
by Jamie Fuller, Marlene McLoughlin (Illustrator). This fictional diary of Dickinson (wouldn't we love it if she had left a journal!) is a creative approach to biography. It really does come off well.
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2. Emily Dickinson: A Collection of Critical Essays (New Century Views, 12)

Emily Dickinson: A Collection of Critica
by Judith Farr (Editor), Emily Dickinson. If you want to know what scholars today make of Dickinson and her poetry, here's the book for you. Academic tone. Hardcover.
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3. The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson (Cambridge Companions to Literature)

edited by Wendy Martin, 2002. This undergraduate-level collection of essays looks at Dickinson's work from a variety of scholarly perspectives. The timeline and bibliography are important resources for further study.
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4. Emily Dickinson and the Art of Belief (Library of Religious Biography)

by Roger Lundin. 1998 biography of Dickinson focuses on her relationship to Christianity, and how her religious ambivalence affected her poems and life. Paperback.
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5. Emily Dickinson (Radcliffe Biography Series)

by Cynthia Griffin Wolff, R. W. B. Lewis. This 1988 reprint is a classic study of Dickinson's life and how it influenced her poetry. Paperback.
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6. The World of Emily Dickinson

by Polly Longsworth. A more recent biography, putting Dickinson into the context of her times. Paperback.
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7. My Wars Are Laid Away in Books

by Alfred Habegger. The author attempts a comprehensive biography, drawing on many contemporary and unpublished sources. He addresses some of the religious and political context of her life, and also her intimate life: who did she love?
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8. The Life of Emily Dickinson

by Richard Benson Sewall. National Book Award winner. This biography brings the woman, Emily Dickinson, alive. Not easy to do, with such a complex and secretive life. Paperback.
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9. White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson

by Brenda Wineapple. Drawing on letters from Dickinson to Higginson (the ones he sent to her have not been discovered), the author puts together a story about their lively relationship, expressed almost entirely in letters (they only met twice). Both Higginson and Dickinson, often portrayed as rather dull personalities, come to life in this treatment.
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10. Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds

by Lyndall Gordon. The author's big revelations, both controversial: that Emily Dickinson was likely afflicted with epilepsy, and that was why she secluded herself; and the affair between her brother Austin and married neighbor Mabel Loomis Todd and how the repercussions of that affair affected the public image of Emily Dickinson's work and life story.
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