Perhaps because of the mundane quality of her daily life, by the late 1850s Dickinson started taking her poetry more seriously. In 1858, she began the project of copying all of her previously written poems down into books. She also published a few poems around this time in the Springfield Republican newspaper, which was owned by family friend Samuel Bowles. Dickinson abhorred publishing, though, and only a handful of her poems were ever published during her lifetime.
In April 1862, literary critic and abolitionist Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote an essay for The Atlantic Monthly addressed to aspiring writers. Soon after, Higginson received a letter postmarked from Amherst. "It was in a handwriting so peculiar that it seemed as if the writer might have taken her first lessons by studying the famous fossil bird-tracks in the museum of that college town,"