11 Fascinating Facts About Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson.
Emily Dickinson. / Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images (Dickinson); Flavio Coelho/Moment/Getty Images (green frame);
1 of 6

Emily Dickinson lived nearly her entire life in Amherst, Massachusetts. She wrote hundreds of poems and letters exploring themes of death, faith, emotions, and truth. As she got older, she became reclusive and eccentric, and parts of her life are still mysteries. Here are 11 things you might not know about Dickinson’s life and work.




December 10, 1830, Amherst, Massachusetts

May 15, 1886, Amherst, Massachusetts

“Because I could not stop for Death,” “Hope is the thing with feathers,” “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”

1. Emily Dickinson wasn’t a fan of traditional punctuation.

An image is used to illustrate Emily Dickinson's punctuation
Emily Dickinson had unusual punctuation. / Jamie Grill/Tetra images via Getty Images

Dickinson’s approach to poetry was unconventional. As her original manuscripts reveal, she interspersed her writing with many dashes of varying lengths and orientations (horizontal and vertical), but early editors cleaned up her unconventional markings, publishing her poems without her original notations. Scholars still debate how Dickinson’s unusual punctuation affected the rhythm and deeper meaning of her poems. If you’re interested in seeing images of her original manuscripts, dashes and all, head to the Emily Dickinson Archive.