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From the few drafts of letters that were not destroyed, at her instruction, when she died, it's apparent that she worked on each letter as a piece of artwork in itself, often picking phrases that she'd used years before.Sometimes she changed little, sometimes she changed a lot.Her place in the history of American literature is secure, even if the enigma of her life is still mysterious..When Emily Dickinson died in 1886, she was unknown as a poet outside of a small circle of family and friends.

Yet the Todd/Higginson volumes have included few of them.

Emily and Susan exchanged ardent and passionate letters over many years; scholars are divided today on the nature of the relationship.

(Some say that the passionate language between women was simply an acceptable norm between friends in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; others find evidence that the Emily/Susan friendship was a lesbian relationship.

But beyond religious differences, Emily also apparently found the social life at Mount Holyoke difficult. She traveled a few times after that -- once, notably, to Washington, DC, with her father during a term he served in the U. Her writing did include letters to many friends, and while she became more eccentric about visitors and correspondence as she aged, she had many visitors: women like Helen Hunt Jackson, a popular writer of the time, among them.

She shared letters with friends and family, even those who lived nearby and could visit easily., a short notice titled "Letter to a Young Contributor." In this notice, he solicited "young men and women" to submit their work, adding, "every editor is always hungering and thirsting after novelties." , after her death), that on April 16, 1862, he picked up a letter at the post office. And he also concluded that she would not be amenable to the changes that he thought necessary to make the poems acceptable.