8 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Emily Dickinson
Big news, book people: there’s going to be a TV series all about Emily Dickinson, the prolific American poet whose works are almost as famous as the fact that she never left her house. (“But why?” everyone always wants to know. “Why didn’t she ever leave her house?” She probably had severe social anxiety! Mystery solved! Moving on!)
According to Variety, the show (set to star Hailee Steinfeld) was ordered by Apple and will be a comedic look into the life of a poet most people consider quite serious, probably because of all those times she wrote about death and stuff.
But what you might not know about Emily Dickinson is that she wasn’t some humorless, death-obsessed shut-in. She was witty and eccentric and enjoyed quite a full life even while living with her parents in Amherst. Here are a few fun facts for those not well-versed in the lore of Emily Dickinson:
1. Because of her reclusive nature, people around town referred to her as “the Myth.”
2. She wasn’t always a recluse. Emily left the house plenty when she was younger. Later on in her life she preferred to stay home, but she still had plenty of friends with whom she communicated through letters. (Can you imagine how much she’d love the 21st century? She only missed out on the Internet—by all accounts THE best thing to ever happen to the socially anxious—by like 100 years.)
3. "Because I Cannot Stop For Death" uses the same meter as the Gilligan’s Island theme. In fact, most of Emily’s poems do. I don’t know what you’re going to do with this information now that you have it, but it’s yours.
4. Emily likely had feelings for a friend of hers named Susan. (Emily wrote PAGES UPON PAGES of letters about how much she missed Susan when Susan moved away, how much she longed to embrace her and kiss her cheeks. You know, just platonic, best friend stuff.) Susan later married Emily’s brother, Austin.
5. Emily considered herself a pagan.
6. Emily wrote a series of spicy love letters to an unnamed man. These letters are commonly referred to as “the Master Letters.”
7. She never married, but she did have a relationship with her father's best friend Judge Otis Lord. He proposed marriage to her, but either she said no or never responded at all, and he died a few months later. (What a power move.)
8. Her manuscripts were edited by her brother’s mistress. That’s right, Emily’s (possible lover) Susan married Emily’s brother, and then Emily’s brother CHEATED ON SUSAN FOR THIRTEEN YEARS with a woman named Mabel Todd Loomis, thus sparking a family feud. (Emily took Susan's side.) After Emily died, some of her works wound up with Susan at Harvard, while others wound up with Mabel, and were published at Amherst. The feud between the two colleges continues TO THIS DAY.
I don’t know about you guys, but given all this information—particularly that bit about the Gilligan’s Island theme—I’m beyond excited for this TV series.