Library Exhibition

An exhibition of 60 fascinating artifacts—books, manuscripts, watercolors, and photographs telling the story of Emily Dickinson’s life—is featured in the Mertz Library's Gallery. They 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 its inspiration are on display along with several original manuscripts, both poems and letters. A reproduction of her only existing dress (it is believed she wore only white) is on loan from the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst. Other lenders to the exhibition are the Jones Library, also in Amherst; Harvard University; and the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia.

Visitors will discover Dickinson as 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 420 flower specimens. Visitors may peruse a digital version of Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium (MS Am 118.11, 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.

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