11 Fascinating Facts About Emily Dickinson

Suzanne Raga
Emily Dickinson.
Emily Dickinson. / Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images (Dickinson); Flavio Coelho/Moment/Getty Images (green frame);
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4. She had vision problems in her thirties.

Emily Dickinson is pictured
Emily Dickinson could have had the eye condition iritis. / Culture Club/GettyImages

In 1863, Dickinson began having trouble with her eyes. Bright light hurt her, and her eyes ached when she tried to read and write. The next year, she visited Dr. Henry Willard Williams, a respected ophthalmologist in Boston. Although we don’t know what Williams’s diagnosis was, historians have speculated that she had iritis, an inflammation of the eye. During her treatment, the poet had to eschew reading, write with just a pencil, and stay in dim light. By 1865, her eye symptoms went away.

5. Dickinson lived near family for her entire life.

Emily Dickinson is pictured with her siblings Austin and Lavinia
Emily Dickinson with siblings Austin and Lavinia. / Culture Club/GettyImages

Although Dickinson spent most of her adult life isolated from the world, she maintained close relationships with her brother and sister. Her brother, Austin, with his wife and three children, lived next door to her in a property called The Evergreens. Dickinson was close friends with Austin’s wife, Susan, regularly exchanging letters with her sister-in-law. And Dickinson’s own sister, Lavinia, also unmarried, lived with her at the Dickinsons’ family home.

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