Poems by Emily Dickinson: Second Series.

First edition of Poems by Emily Dickinson: Second Series

Poems by Emily Dickinson: Second Series.

DICKINSON, Emily. Edited by T.W. Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd.


Item Number: 142680

Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1891.

First edition of Emily Dickinson’s second book of poetry. BAL 4656. Octavo, original publisher’s gray and green cloth decoratively stamped in gilt, all edges gilt, facsimile manuscript leaves at front, tissue guarded title page. In very good condition. A nice example.

A poet who took definition as her province, Emily Dickinson challenged the existing definitions of poetry and the poet’s work. Like writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman, she experimented with expression in order to free it from conventional restraints. After discovering hundreds of Emily’s poems shortly after her death, the poet’s sister Lavinia resolved that the poetry must be published. She later wrote: "I have had a ‘Joan of Arc’ feeling about Emilies [sic] poems from the first" (Letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, December 23, 1890, as quoted in Bingham, p. 87). Lavinia approached two of the poet’s friends--sister-in-law Susan Dickinson and mentor Thomas Wentworth Higginson --for help. Susan did not pursue publication quickly enough for Lavinia, and Higginson was otherwise occupied. To fulfill her vision, Lavinia turned to Mabel Loomis Todd, the vivacious young wife of an Amherst College professor. Todd was a momentous choice, for she was deeply involved in a love affair with Austin Dickinson, Susan’s husband and Emily's brother. An accomplished artist and musician, Todd brought much-needed vitality and commitment to preparing Dickinson’s poetry for publication. After finally enlisting Thomas Wentworth Higginson as co-editor, Todd completed Poems of Emily Dickinson in 1890, just four years after the poet’s death.

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