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Houghton Library

Emily Dickinson's Literary Legacy: Unveiling the Definitive Edition of Her Correspondence

Thursday, April 4, 2024, 5:30pm - 7:00pm
Houghton Library
Open to the public, Event,
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Houghton Library and Harvard University Press present: "Emily Dickinson's Literary Legacy: Unveiling the Definitive Edition of Her Correspondence" with coeditor, Emily Dickinson scholar Cristanne Miller, in conversation with Leslie A. Morris, Gore Vidal Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts.

The definitive edition of Emily Dickinson’s correspondence, expanded and revised for the first time in over sixty years.

Emily Dickinson was a letter writer before she was a poet. And it was through letters that she shared prose reflections—alternately humorous, provocative, affectionate, and philosophical—with her extensive community. While her letters often contain poems, and some letters consist entirely of a single poem, they also constitute a rich genre all their own. Through her correspondence, Dickinson appears in her many facets as a reader, writer, and thinker; social commentator and comedian; friend, neighbor, sister, and daughter.

The Letters of Emily Dickinson is the first collected edition of the poet’s correspondence since 1958. It presents all 1,304 of her extant letters, along with the small number available from her correspondents. Almost 300 are previously uncollected, including letters published after 1958, letters more recently discovered in manuscript, and more than 200 “letter-poems” that Dickinson sent to correspondents without accompanying prose. This edition also redates much of her correspondence, relying on records of Amherst weather patterns, historical events, and details about flora and fauna to locate the letters more precisely in time. Finally, updated annotations place Dickinson’s writing more firmly in relation to national and international events, as well as the rhythms of daily life in her hometown. What emerges is not the reclusive Dickinson of legend but a poet firmly embedded in the political and literary currents of her time.

“Dickinson’s letters shed light on the soaring and capacious mind of a great American poet and her vast world of relationships. This edition presents her correspondence anew, in all its complexity and brilliance.

This extraordinary collection shows [Dickinson] to be a masterful prose writer…An exciting new standard in Dickinson scholarship.”

—Kirkus Reviews

Cristanne Miller is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Edward H. Butler Professor of English at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Her many books include Emily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar, Reading in Time: Emily Dickinson in the Nineteenth Century, and Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them.

Domhnall Mitchell is Professor of Nineteenth-Century American Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He is the author of Measures of Possibility: Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts and Emily Dickinson: Monarch of Perception.

Image courtesy of Harvard University Press.

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Drinks and light refreshments will be served. Registration is encouraged but not required.

We encourage persons with disabilities who would like to request accommodations or have questions about physical access to contact us.

Event Organizer

Christine Jacobson