Early 1860s

Emily Dickinson’s reclusiveness increases. While the origin of this departure from social life is specifically unknown, Dickinson’s withdrawal from society also marks the beginning of one of her most productive times, artistically. 

 

“A Charm invests a face 

Imperfectly beheld – 

The Lady dare not lift her Vail – 

For fear it be dispelled – 

But peers beyond her mesh – 

And wishes – and denies – 

Lest interview – annul a want – 

That Image – satisfies-” (Dickinson, Fr430A)

1855, November

Following the death of David Mack, the Dickinson family purchases and returns to the Homestead on Main Street. Edward Dickinson remodels the house and constructs a small conservatory for Emily and Lavinia. 

1875, 15 June

Emily Norcross Dickinson suffers a stroke that produces “a partial, lateral paralysis.” The next summer she falls and breaks her hip, becoming permanently bedridden, and requiring further care. For the next seven years, until her death in 1874, Emily and Lavinia cared for their mother in her convalescence. 

 

“…have never seen a daughter so devoted.” (Harriet Jameson, Lavinia’s neighbor, 11-10-[1882], Container 5, Jameson Papers)