11 Fascinating Facts About Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson.
Emily Dickinson. / Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images (Dickinson); Flavio Coelho/Moment/Getty Images (green frame);
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10. Dickinson had a big green thumb.

A gardener is pictured to illustrate a fact about Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson liked to get her hands dirty. / Peter Cade/Stone via Getty Images

Throughout her life, Dickinson was a major gardener. On her family’s property, she grew hundreds of flowers, planted vegetables, and cared for apple, cherry, and pear trees. She also oversaw the family’s greenhouse, which contained jasmine, gardenias, carnations, and ferns, and she often referred to plants in her poetry. Recently, the Emily Dickinson Museum, located on the Dickinsons’ former property, led a restoration of Dickinson’s garden and greenhouse. Archaeologists restored and replanted apple and pear trees on the property, and they’re hoping to find seeds from the 1800s to use for future planting.

11. Dickinson’s niece added “called back” to her tombstone.

Emily Dickinson's tombstone is pictured
Emily Dickinson's tombstone. / Mark Zimmerman, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

On May 15, 1886, Dickinson died at her home in Amherst of kidney disease or, as recent scholars have suggested, severe high blood pressure. Her first tombstone in Amherst’s West Cemetery only displayed her initials, E.E.D. (for Emily Elizabeth Dickinson). But her niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, later gave her deceased aunt a new headstone, engraved with the poet’s name, birth and death dates, and the words “Called Back,” a reference to an 1880 novel of the same name by Hugh Conway that Dickinson enjoyed reading. In the last letter that Dickinson wrote (to her cousins) before she died, she only wrote “Called Back.”

A version of this story ran in 2016; it has been updated for 2023.