AS English Literature: Context(AO4)

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  • Emily Dickinson Context
    • Her nephew and love interest(Lord Otis) died within a year of each other.
    • Her talent wasn't truly appreciated until after her death. Her rhythmic structure and broken metre were considered inept at the time.
      • Her work wasn't published until the years between 1945-1960. In 1960, her poems were edited by Thomas H Johnson and published.
    • Dickinson's most dominant writing period was during the American Civil War, and she experienced many deaths because of it(death of good friends husband, close friend lead the first black rank), and this may have served influence for her poetry.
    • The male dominated world of literature may have prevented her from publishing her work in her lifetime.
    • Dickinson's family were heaving Christian, and she attended a religious all girls school during her youth.
      • Despite this, she had ambiguous beliefs regarding her religion, and this caused her emotional turmoil, as she referred to herself in her master letters as "one of the lingering bad ones" for not believing in God.
    • She began only wearing white and turned away every visitor she had in the 1880's.
    • Dickinson's childhood home was on Pleasant Street in Amherst, MA and her bedroom is said to have overlooked a cemetery.
    • Dickinson never married, but may have been engaged to Lord Otis.
      • It is also believed that she may have felt lesbian affections towards her brother's wife, Susan.
    • She is now considered one of the greatest poets of all time.
    • Great Revival Movement took place during her lifetime(this was a political and religious movement).
      • Dickinson looked on this with great skepticism.
    • Her relationship with her mother was distant, and whilst she was said to be her father's favourite, their relationship was often cold.
    • Her father was a liberal, so she had to hide her poetry to keep it a secret from him.
    • Her only disseminated poems were those sent as notes and letters to family and friends.
    • Many scholars have rejected the view of Dickinson as a heartsick recluse. Research focuses too heavily on her personal life and the importance of men in her poetry.
    • In 1886, her health began to deteriorate. She suffered a severe case of Brights Disease, and at the age of 56, she died of this and was buried in a white coffin.


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