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Passions in PoetryEmily Dickinson
1830 - 1886

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, the daughter of a lawyer. She was educated at Amherst Academy (1834-47) and Mount Holyoake (1847-8). In her early years she appears to have been a bright and sociable young scholar, but in her twenties she began to withdraw from the outside world. By her forties she had become a complete recluse, refusing to leave her house and shunning all contact with strangers. A mystic by inclination, she wrote much in secret, producing over two thousand poems, only seven of which are known to have been published in her lifetime.

Her personal life remains something of a mystery although there is the possibility that her seclusion might have been prompted by a failed love affair. Her work certainly reflects a deep inner struggle spanning many years and her verse is full of powerful allusions to storms, volcanic eruptions and imprisonment.

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