Austin and Susan Dickinson’s eldest child was born on June 19, 1861. Emily Dickinson had a close and playful relationship with the child named Edward (“Ned”) after his grandfather, and the two shared a pleasure in witty wordplay. “Ned tells that the Clock purrs and the Kitten ticks. He inherits his Uncle Emily’s ardor for the lie,” Dickinson crowed in a letter when Ned was not yet five. Claiming to prefer his pipe and Emerson to church when he grew up, it’s clear that aunt and nephew had much in common; he would later become an assistant librarian at Amherst College. Sadly, Ned suffered from a host of health issues including epilepsy, and died of angina in May 1898 when he was just 36 years old.
Emily Dickinson to Elizabeth Holland (L315), early March 1866, in The Letters of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1958), 2:449.