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Breaking news revealing the truth about Emily Dickinson’s life has recently been uncovered. For the past hundred-plus years literary historians believed Dickinson to be a plain and quiet type of person who did not communicate with the public for most of her life. Her romanticism poetry drew attention from fellow literary legends. After corresponding with the well-known Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who showed interest in her work but advised her not to publish it, she became defiant to publish any of her work.
Dickinson grew up in a very strict Puritan family. However, her poetry did not reflect her Puritan upbringing at all. As the late eighteen sixties came about, Dickinson became very attached to her family home and refused to leave it. She cut off most of her relationships with her friends. The only way she could express her feelings was through her writing. She eventually died in 1886 of a kidney condition called Bright’s disease. Against Dickinson’s request, her sister Lavinia turned over the rest of her work to be published.
The biography you have just read is a summary of the life of Emily Dickinson we have all taken to accept. The following story is the truth revealed. The shocking discoveries will leave you in amazement. One hundred-fifteen years later, who would have thought historians could ever crack a scandal like this one?
Emily Dickinson grew up as a New England Puritan. The values she was taught were all but revealed in the poetry she wrote. How could such strict Puritan parents raise a child to express such anti-Puritan values in her writing as Emily Dickinson did? That question has recently become invalid now that scientists have discovered that Emily Dickinson indeed had a twin sister to whom the credit for all of the poetry is now given. How and why did such a disgrace take place, you ask? It was a complicated situation-one which would probably never happen today!
Sexuality and enjoyment were things thought of as satanic to Puritans. When Emily Dickinson’s parents gave birth to twins in Amherst, MA, society saw them as grotesque and the parents themselves were humiliated. To Puritans, having twins meant the couple enjoyed sexuality twice as much as others. They would have been shunned and looked down on if they kept both of the babies. With the idea of murdering one of the babies out of the question, one of the twins was given to a caretaker of the Dickinson’s.
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Emily, who lived in England, grew up without a religious background. She was very artistic, but as early as age fifteen, she found poetry to be her love. At age seventeen she started having kidney problems. The doctors tried to relax her and tell her she would be all right, but she could see through their eyes. She knew she did not have long to live. During this time in her life Emily wrote most of her poetry, mostly dealing with death. Writing was the only way to express her anger and fright. The caretaker read her works and loved them. The only problem was that she was unable to publish them because of Emily’s supposedly "hidden identity." The caretaker felt that her writing needed to be read by others. So she sent them to her biological parents. The Dickinson’s were shocked and appalled by many of the anti-Puritan values expressed in the writings. When Emily from Massachusetts came across the works in her parents’ house she thought they were entertaining. Without knowing who the author of the poems was, Emily published seven of her favorite poems under her name.
In 1850, Emily from England died of Bright’s disease, a kidney condition. Emily’s caretaker immediately informed the Dickinson’s of her death. Following Emily’s death the caretaker came across some of her published work that had eventually showed up in England. She was amazed that the Dickinson’s willingly published her poems. The caretaker proceeded to send the poems Emily had written to the Dickinson’s. The Dickinson’s were more and more offended by the writings and refused to have them visibly sitting in their home. They gathered all of the works that the caretaker had sent and hid them in a box in their attack.
In 1882 Emily from Massachusetts started having the same kidney problems as her sister. She was taken care of for many years, but eventually died in 1886. After Emily’s death, her younger sister, Lavinia, came across the box labeled "Emily’s poems". Ignorant of the fact that Emily had a twin sister named Emily, she thought they were poems that Emily from Massachusetts had written. Lavinia felt that they needed to be shared by everyone, so she had the remaining poems published. In all, Emily from England wrote 1,775 poems, all of which were considered to be written by Emily from Massachusetts!
The truth about the Dickinson’s was never told and the secret was kept for one hundred-fifteen years. Historians uncoiled this mystery when they recovered a diary somewhere in England. The diary was almost like new because it was kept in a heavy metal safe. The recovered diary ended up belonging to the caretaker of Emily from England. The entire scandal of the Emilys’ was explained among the pages. The historians were amazed and could not wait to share the news with the public.
This unbelievable story now makes everything in history questionable. Did Emerson, Thoreau, and Wordsworth really exist; or are they pieces of someone’s imagination? This has been another issue of Poetic Justice. Please pick up next week’s issue containing: Man Insists He Is T.S.Eliot!