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The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson

About the Book

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson

What if the old maid of Amherst wasn’t an old maid at all? Her older brother, Austin, spoke of Emily as his “wild sister.” Jerome Charyn, continuing his exploration of American history through fiction, has written a startling novel about Emily Dickinson in her own voice, with all its characteristic modulations that he learned from her letters and poems. The poet dons a hundred veils, alternately playing wounded lover, penitent and female devil.

We meet the significant characters of her life, including her tempestuous sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert; her brooding father, Edward; and the Reverend Charles Wadsworth, who may have inspired some of her greatest letters and poems. Charyn has also invented characters, including an impoverished fellow student at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, who will betray her; and a handyman named Tom, who will obsess Emily throughout her life.

Charyn has written an extraordinary adventure that will disturb and delight, an astonishing novel that removes Emily Dickinson’s own mysterious mask and reveals the passions and heartbreak of America’s greatest poet.

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson
by Jerome Charyn

  • Publication Date: February 14, 2011
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • ISBN-10: 0393339173
  • ISBN-13: 9780393339178