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Emily Dickinson Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Edward Dickinson—Emily's father—went out in his underwear one night and woke up the entire town of Amherst with the church bells so that residents could see the northern lights.17

For a long time, it was believed that there was only one authenticated photograph of the adult Emily Dickinson. In 2000, Dickinson scholar Philip F. Gura found and purchased (on eBay!) a photograph that seemed to be a previously undiscovered portrait of the poet. Scholars are still debating whether the portrait actually is Emily Dickinson, though Gura's forensic analysis says that it is.18

The epitaph on Emily Dickinson's grave reads simply, "Called Back."19

As an unmarried daughter, Dickinson was expected to handle chores around her parents' home. She willingly did the baking and the gardening, but balked at dusting and (not surprisingly) paying social visits.20

Was Emily Dickinson depressed or even suicidal? It is possible. In one of her letters to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, she wrote, "Of our greatest acts we are ignorant. You were not aware that you saved my life."21

Whenever she was asked why her sister chose to shut herself off from society, Lavinia Dickinson responded, "It was only a happen."22

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