Emily Dickinson, Harvard-Bound

September 13, 2019

Madeleine Olneck’s new film, Wild Nights with Emily, explores Emily Dickinson’s romance with Susan Gilbert Dickinson, her sister-in-law and neighbor. Olneck was able to use Dickinson’s poems in the film with the permission of Harvard University Press, something that seems strange to Seth Perlow at the Los Angeles Review of Books. “One ought not expect a single institution to unilaterally change the norms of intellectual property,” Perlow writes, “but in the case of a poet as famous as Dickinson, one might wish that Harvard would relax its grip. As it stands, the wealthiest university in the world claims the rights to a body of poems that were unpublished when their author died, over 130 years ago, and many of whose source manuscripts this institution has never possessed.”

Image credit: Todd-Bingham Picture Collection and Family Papers, Yale University

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

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