Her Life

April 30-August 1

An exhibition of over 50 fascinating artifacts—books, manuscripts, watercolors, and photographs telling the story of Emily Dickinson’s life—is featured in the Mertz Library's William D. Rondina and Giovanni Foroni LoFaro Gallery. These objects provide a rare glimpse into Dickinson’s world: her reclusiveness, her adoration of flowers and plants, and her reluctance to publish her poetry.

The links between her verse and the plants and flowers that provided her with inspiration are on display along with original manuscripts, both poems and letters. A reproduction of her only existing dress (it is believed she wore only white later in life) is on loan from the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst. Other lenders to the exhibition are the Houghton Library, Harvard University, the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, Ferris Cook and Marta McDowell.

Visitors will discover Dickinson not only as a poet, but also a gardener, botanist, nature lover, and woman of the Victorian era. She came from a cultivated, educated, and genteel family. She studied botany from the age of nine and throughout her life tended the garden at the Homestead, the family's home. As an amateur botanist, she collected, pressed, classified, and labeled more than 400 flower specimens. Visitors may peruse a digital version of Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium (MS Am 1118.11, by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University), examining specimens through an interactive, touch-screen kiosk as if they were turning the pages of Dickinson’s scrapbook.

An exhibition catalog features essays by Dickinson authors Judith Farr and Marta McDowell. It can be purchased at points throughout the Garden.

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