Cover of book "letters of emily dickinson"

Book Launch:
The Letters of Emily Dickinson
Wed., April 3, 4:30pm ET

HYBRID PROGRAM — In-person at Amherst College’s Frost Library and streaming live for online registrants

Celebrating a new edition of Emily Dickinson’s correspondence — expanded and revised for the first time in over sixty years.


Cover of book "letters of emily dickinson"In-person tickets are now sold out. Please register to join us online!

Emily Dickinson was a letter writer before she was a poet. And it was through letters that she shared prose reflections—alternately humorous, provocative, affectionate, and philosophical—with her extensive community. While her letters often contain poems, and some letters consist entirely of a single poem, they also constitute a rich genre all their own. Through her correspondence, Dickinson appears in her many facets as a reader, writer, and thinker; social commentator and comedian; friend, neighbor, sister, and daughter.

Join editor Cristanne Miller along with Brooke Steinhauser (Senior Director of Programs at the Emily Dickinson Museum) for a lively conversation about this new edition.

The Letters of Emily Dickinson is the first collected edition of the poet’s correspondence since 1958. It presents all 1,304 of her extant letters, along with the small number available from her correspondents. Almost 300 are previously uncollected, including letters published after 1958, letters more recently discovered in manuscript, and more than 200 “letter-poems” that Dickinson sent to correspondents without accompanying prose. This edition also redates much of her correspondence, relying on records of Amherst weather patterns, historical events, and details about flora and fauna to locate the letters more precisely in time. Finally, updated annotations place Dickinson’s writing more firmly in relation to national and international events, as well as the rhythms of daily life in her hometown. What emerges is not the reclusive Dickinson of legend but a poet firmly embedded in the political and literary currents of her time.

“Dickinson’s letters shed light on the soaring and capacious mind of a great American poet and her vast world of relationships. This edition presents her correspondence anew, in all its complexity and brilliance.
This extraordinary collection shows [Dickinson] to be a masterful prose writer…An exciting new standard in Dickinson scholarship.”
Kirkus Reviews

About the editors

Cristanne Miller is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Edward H. Butler Professor of English at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Her many books include Emily Dickinson: A Poet’s Grammar, Reading in Time: Emily Dickinson in the Nineteenth Century, and Emily Dickinson’s Poems: As She Preserved Them.

Domhnall Mitchell is Professor of Nineteenth-Century American Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He is the author of Measures of Possibility: Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts and Emily Dickinson: Monarch of Perception.

“This brilliantly expansive and comprehensive collection of Emily Dickinson’s letters shows us just how deeply she was embedded in her social world. Here we see, in Dickinson’s own words, a writer exchanging ideas with a wide circle of friends and family members, honing her abilities as a poet, and grappling with a nation torn by war over slavery and race. In these letters, we see the life of a genius unfold.”
Jericho Brown, winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

“Drawing deeply on more than three decades of editorial scholarship, Miller and Mitchell give us a Dickinson both inseparable from her own time and indispensable to ours. Meticulously edited from archival sources and annotated with immense care, this work overwhelmingly shows that both Dickinson’s poems and her letters issue from a singular impetus: to seek in language—often formally experimental, always compelling—new ways to express the strangeness and beauty of our experiences as finite beings in the world.”
Marta Werner, author of Writing in Time: Emily Dickinson’s Master Hours

A thrilling read that wholly immerses us in Dickinson’s world. It seems Dickinson thought in poetry, as the characteristic cadence of her poems recurs in the letters themselves. Especially fascinating is the continuity of her long flirtatious argument with God, taken up in correspondence with her school friends, with eminent public figures, and in the poems she enclosed. Miller and Mitchell present a masterfully curated abundance. To read it is to encounter a mind on fire.
Rae Armantrout, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

The Letters of Emily Dickinson provides a vital window into not only the poet’s inner life and art, but also her surprisingly wide social world. Miller and Mitchell, two of our foremost Dickinson scholars, have produced a fresh, definitive edition for the twenty-first century, tracking the relationship of poems to letters and precisely locating these treasures in their time and place.”
Bonnie Costello, coeditor of The Selected Letters of Marianne Moore

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