Long out of print, a uniquely intimate portrait of Emily Dickinson written by her niece.
What would it be like to have Emily Dickinson as your babysitter? In this astonishing memoir, out of print for almost a century, Martha “Matty” Dickinson describes the childhood she spent next door to–and often in the care of–her Aunt Emily. We see Matty as a little girl, hiding from the other grownups in Emily’s upstairs rooms, helping Emily in the kitchen, venturing with her into the cellar for the gingerbread she wasn’t supposed to have. As Matty becomes a teenager, she finds a confidante in her aunt, who is fascinated by the latest youth fads, school gossip, and the recurring question of what to wear to a party (“her ‘vote’ was for my highest-heeled red slippers”)–not to mention the music, novels, and poems she and Matty both love. From an early age, Emily teaches Matty the joys of solitude and independence: “No one,” Emily said, “could ever punish a Dickinson by shutting her up alone.” First published in 1932, this is the most intimate record we have of Emily Dickinson, whose death sparked a long family struggle over her work and her image. In a foreword to this new edition, the poet and critic Anthony Madrid provides a biographical frame for Matty’s recollections, and explains how such a remarkable document could spend so long out of sight.