When I was a college student I lived down the street from Emily Dickinson's house on Main St. in Amherst, MA. The poetess lived in the stately colonial home in the 19th century, and much like many housewives, she didn't want to leave it ...
Emily Dickinson, though she had gentleman callers and a rumored engagement, never married. There is rumor that her father intervened and broke off an early relationship of hers, one that might have resulted in marriage. But she was very much like what a housewife would be today: have some schooling under her belt and a love for household pastimes.
|Kitchen goods at the Emily Dickinson house|
She loved especially baking breads and sweets, and tending to her garden -- a garden that was renown in her small town for its beauty and color.
Ms. Dickinson wrote the following to her female friend, Abiah Root in 1845:
"I am going to learn to make bread to-morrow. So you may imagine me with my sleeves rolled up, mixing flour, milk, salaratus, etc., with a great deal of grace. I advise you if you don’t know how to make the staff of life to learn with dispatch.”
- Emily Dickinson
And like many housewives who draw, paint, or sew, Emily also had an artistic hobby, which was writing poetry. Emily spent many years writing thousands of poems, with only a handful published in her lifetime. As Ms Dickinson's years went on she did not like to leave the house, although she would take visitors. I can very much relate to this, although I don't like answering the knocks at the front door when I'm not expecting anyone to come by. Why must I disturb my peaceful solitude with my husband for an external need?
I like to read about Emily Dickinson because I am very much a homebody, a baker, and a gardener. I also was an English major who read her poems and lived down the street from her home. I often think of what it was like to live in the 1850s to late 1800s in small town New England. Emily Dickinson is as close as I'll ever get.
Do you have any literary idols or people from history you relate to?