資料彙整   /   作家  /  Emily  Dickinson  愛蜜麗•狄更森
Emily  Dickinson
資料提供者:Kate Liu/劉紀雯;Joseph Morphy/墨樵;Ray Schulte/蕭笛雷;Fr.Pierre E.Demers/談德義神父;Ron Tranqilla
關鍵字詞:Introduction to Literature 1998 American Literature 19th Century U.S. Romantic Poetry 19th Century




A.  家庭背景

B.  教育與交遊


A.  生活方式

B.  作品原由

C.  作品出版



A.     家庭背景

        愛蜜麗•狄更森(Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, 後稱狄更森)出生於1830年,在育有三名子女的狄更森家中排行第二。其父愛德華•狄更森(Edward Dickinson)為安賀司特(Amherst)當地的仕紳,其母愛蜜麗•狄更森(Emily Norcross Dickinson)為人安靜儉樸,其兄威廉奧斯汀•狄更森(William Austin Dickinson)繼承父親在當地的地位,成為律師。愛蜜麗•狄更森與其妹拉薇妮雅(Lavinia Dickinson)終其一生同住並照顧彼此。當狄更森漸漸沈隱遁世,拉薇妮雅同其姊終生不婚,盡心盡力料理家務。

B.     教育與交遊

狄更森在安賀司特學院(Amherst Academy)接受教育,之後進入聖枷山女子學院(Mount Holyoke Female Seminary)就讀。然而因其身體孱弱,對其家人念茲在茲,其父愛德華•狄更森因此使之輟學,往後在家中自學。狄更森於輟學之後依舊與神學院的同學朋友通信,但由於好朋友死亡、結婚或遷離等因素,而與其斷絕音訊。昔日的同窗好友,蘇珊吉柏特(Susan Huntington Gilbert)後來雖成為狄更森的大嫂,卻因為與威廉奧斯汀的感情不睦,並且因信仰及生活理念不同,而與狄更森和其妹拉薇妮雅形同陌路。



A.     生活方式


B.     作品原由

狄更森的詩最為多產的時間是在南北戰爭期間,這並非戰爭帶給她靈感,而是她在離群索居中,對於自然界的觀察、有感於至親摯友之間的生離死別所產生的冥想與感觸。1882年,狄更森母親逝世,狄更森姊妹失去至親相依為命;1884年,由於她的忘年之交歐提斯•羅爾得(Judge Otis Lord)法官辭世,狄更森再次受到死亡的威脅與打擊。在精神大受打擊、身心俱疲的病痛煎熬之下,狄更森於1886年五月十五日因腎炎逝世。

C.     作品出版

拉薇妮雅依據狄更森遺言,將其大多數信件焚毀,而狄更森的詩作則於其身後,由拉薇妮雅發現,共一千多首。拉薇妮雅一向尊敬其姊並相信詩作必有其保存及出版記錄的價值,因此委託人代為編輯出版成冊。在多版本中,由1955年湯瑪士•強森(Thomas H. Johnson)編纂成三冊,共收錄1775首詩的哈佛大學出版社版本最具公信力。



Emily Elizabeth Dickinson



 Family & Friends

    A. Family

    B. Circle of Friends

 Important Incidents in Life

    A. Romantic Relationship

    B. Traumatic Strikes

 Features of Work

 Last Years and Posthumous Publication


 Family & Friends

Born on December 10, 1830 in Amherst in Massachusetts, where her deathbed was on May 15, 1886, Emily Dickinson remained unmarried her whole life.  Her family and the small circle of friends were weightily important throughout her life.

A.     Family – Emily Dickinson was born as a second child in the family

1.      Father – Edward Dickinson, a prominent figure in the community of Amherst, he was an influential citizen in Amherst.  His influence on Emily makes her dropped out of school and stayed with the family at all times.

2.      Mother – Emily Norcross Dickinson, a submissive and reticent wife mainly involved in domestic life

3.      Elder Brother – William Austin Dickinson, like his father, served as a lawyer and a treasurer in Amherst, who married Susan Gilbert

4.      Younger Sister – Lavinia Dickinson, remained unmarried like Emily and took care of the family after Edward’s death and Austin married.


B.     Circle of Friends – the small circle of friends seem to be extremely important for Emily Dickinson and strongly connected with her life

1.      Early Connections with friends

Sophia Holland and Abiah Root were close friends to Emily.  They corresponded with Emily until Holland’s death at 14 and Root married.

2.      Susan Huntington Gilbert—After Emily left Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, Emily developed a steady friendship with Susan.  Their closeness was interrupted by Susan’s marriage with Austin.

3.      Helen Hunt Jackson—Emily and Helen knew each other for long when they grew up in Amherst, but only later in her life in 1870s that she corresponded with Helen.

4.      Samuel Bowles—Editor of Springfield Republican that Emily first met in1858.  Bowles encouraged Emily to write, but his neglect toward Emily’s submission and contribution of her poetry.  People speculated that it was this indifference toward her contribution of works to Bowles that makes Emily gradually withered and retreated her contact with the outside world.

5.      Thomas Wentworth Higginson—an essayist that encouraged Emily to write and send him her poetry, and yet, like Bowles, he did not intend to publish her poems as Emily had hoped.




 Important Incidents in Life

Education – After Dickinson graduated from Amherst Academy, which was  a co-education school, she attended school at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary at South Hadley for merely one year.  She had once revealed how she was appealed to the Seminary environment.  However, it is true that Emily was very much a family-attached person and with her father’s insistence and determination, Emily withdrew from her education.  Instead, she self-educated at home.


A.     Romantic Relationship

1.      Benjamin Newton – a clerk in Edward Dickinson’s law office, died at relatively young age in 1853; encouraged Emily in developing her talents in poetry.  Newton’s influence on Emily might be noticed in her poem and letters.

2.      Reverend Charles Wadsworth – a brilliant married preacher whose moving to west coast of the country had once brought sorrow to Emily.  Yet, when he returned, Emily seemed to transform her emotional expression all into poetry.

3.      Judge Otis Phillips Lord – a widower that Emily had emotional attachment with in her forties.  It is said that Emily had considered to marry Judge Lord after a stead and long association.  His death had brought about certain damage toward Emily’s health.


B.     Traumatic Strikes

1.      Death of the Beloved

Bed-ridden Edward Dickinson died in 1874, and his wife went after him in 1882.  Emily and Lavinia looked after their parents since they were seriously ill.  Later in 1884, the last straw fell on her along with Judge Lord’s passing away. 

2.      Editor’s responses to her poems

Bowles and Higginson’s ignorance and criticism of Emily’s poems strongly affected her.  It is believed that Emily only saw 7 of her poems amounted around 1,775 published during her life time.  Among these published poems, some of them were published anonymously, and some of them were mildly criticized by Bowles for the features of transience that he claimed to be “unhealthy lament” from a young lady.  Emily might have taken this remark by heart and was disappointed more when she realized it was not possible for Bowles nor Higginson to appreciate her poems. 



 Features of Work

The influence of Emerson and English female novelist Emily Bronte, and other literary figures had lucid and consistent effect on Emily early in her lifetime.  All of her life, she had been surrounded by sickness and death, and hence death, love, faith and nature remained the main themes in her creation. 



 Last Years and Posthumous Publication

Emily deceased because of nephritis in 1886.  Lavinia found about 1,000 poems after her death.  According to Emily’s last will, Lavinia burnt most of the letters, and as to the poems that Lavinia found, she entrusted them to be edited and published.  Among versions of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, the most convincing and authoritative one was the Harvard edition, published in the year of 1955 and edited as three volumes by Thomas H. Johnson.




Dictionary of American Biography Base Set.  American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.

Gay & Lesbian Biography.  St. James P, 1997.

Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. 17 Vols. Gale Research, 1998.

Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: Realism, Naturalism, and Local Color, 1865-1917.  Gale Research, 1988.

Leder, Sharon with Andrea Abbott.  The Language of Exclusion: The Poetry of Emily Dickenson and Christina Rossetti.  NY: Greenwood P, 1987.

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