A Longtime Pen Pal Meets Emily Dickinson

June 26, 2020

Author Thomas Wentworth Higginson was pen pals with poet Emily Dickinson for eight years before the two finally met face-to-face. For the Atlantic, Martha Ackman describes when the two finally met and how Higginson saw a different side to the poet. “Higginson’s visit would be no ordinary call for Dickinson—not that she received many guests.” Ackman writes. “Her great literary productivity of the Civil War years had tapered off. She had stopped collecting her poems in stitched booklets—fascicles—and new poems remained unbound on loose sheets. Nearly 40 years old, she was more patient, less insistent, and more forgiving of perceived slights from those close to her. Although others around her were busy with their own lives, she did not feel as forsaken as she once had. Dickinson’s sense of self made the difference.”

Image source: Amherst College Archives

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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