Emily Dickinson homestead, a yellow house, viewed from the sidewalk in autumn

May 1833

The Homestead is sold to the Mack family. The Dickinson family continues to live in the Homestead as tenants of the Macks, living in the eastern half of the house.

1851, February

Emily Dickinson’s earliest known message to Susan Huntington Gilbert. Susan, a lifelong friend and early champion of Dickinson’s poetry, would go on to receive more than 250 poems from Dickinson, more than sent to any other correspondent.

 

“Don’t forget all the little friends who have tried so hard to be sisters, when indeed you were alone!” (Dickinson in an early letter to Susan, L101)

1863, September

From late April to November, 1864, Emily Dickinson spends many months in Cambridge, Massachusetts for treatment of a severe, disabling eye condition. During these two months with Boston’s leading ophthalmologist, Dr. Henry Willard Williams, Dickinson lives with her cousins Louisa and Frances Norcross in Cambridge. 

 

“The eyes are as with you, sometimes easy, sometimes sad. I think they are not worse, nor do I think them better than when I came home. The snow light offends them, and the house is bright … Vinnie [is] good to me, but ‘cannot see why I don’t get well.’ This makes me think I am long sick, and this takes the ache to my eyes.” (Dickinson, L430, 433, 439) 

1813

Samuel Fowler Dickinson, Emily Dickinson’s paternal Grandfather, builds the Homestead on Main Street in Amherst. 

 

“To ascertain the House

and if the soul’s within

and hold the Wick of mine to it

to light, and then return -” (Dickinson, Fr802)

1883, 5 October

At barely eight years old, Gilbert (“Gib”) Dickinson dies tragically of typhoid fever. Gib was a delightful, intelligent little boy, whose “fascinating ways” and “witty little sayings” charmed everyone. Beyond the great love his father and mother had for him, Gib was also the last hope for Austin and Susan to carry on the Dickinson name. 

 

“Gilbert rejoiced in Secrets – 

His Life was panting with them …

No crescent was this Creature – He traveled from the Full – 

Such soar, but never set …

Without a speculation, our little Ajax spans the whole…” (Dickinson, L800-801) 

1852, February 20

The Springfield Daily Republican publishes Dickinson’s “Sic transit gloria mundi” anonymously as “A Valentine.” 

1865

The Civil War ends. 

Illustration of the Amherst College campus in 1821

1821

Amherst College opens with Samuel Fowler Dickinson as a principle founder.