Cover image for An Emily Dickinson encyclopedia
An Emily Dickinson encyclopedia
Eberwein, Jane Donahue, 1943-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xviii, 395 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1290 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS1541.Z49 E47 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was a mystery in her own lifetime, and her poems continue to challenge their readers. For many, she remains a mythic recluse always dressed in white. Although factual knowledge has corrected that image, it was firmly established in Amherst long before the poet's death. Her works were largely neglected during her lifetime as most of her poems were published posthumously. Since Poems by Emily Dickinson appeared in 1890, readers have been raising questions about the poet, her world, and the works that have established her as a famous literary figure. An innovative writer who blurred the distinctions between poetry and prose, Dickinson is attracting a growing amount of scholarly attention. Critics have found her works elusive to interpret, and therefore, focus much research on her artistry and the practices of her editors.

Now that Emily Dickinson's poetry has taken its place at the heart of the American literary canon, readers continue to examine the poet herself, the environment that sustained and challenged her, her artistic choices, and the implications of her poems. This encyclopedia features several hundred entries on persons, places, and institutions connected with Dickinson; cultural influences affecting her; stylistic aspects of her poetry; editorial and publication history; reception of her poems; critical approaches to her art; and modern responses to her in other art forms as well as thoughtful commentaries on a representative selection of poems. Recommendations for further reading follow each entry, and the book includes a general bibliography of cited Dickinson scholarship. The volume also features a chronology, appendices, and a guide to centers for archival research.

Author Notes

JANE DONAHUE EBERWEIN is Professor of English and Coordinator of American Studies at Oakland University. Editor of Early American Poetry (1978) and author of Dickinson: Strategies of Limitation (1985), she has published widely on authors associated with an imaginative tradition grounded in New England Puritanism and is best known for studies of Anne Bradstreet and Emily Dickinson. She was a founding board member of the Emily Dickinson International Society and recently completed a term on the Executive Committee of the MLA Division on American Literature to 1800.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Poems by Emily Dickinson appeared in 1890, and since that time, questions have emerged on the practices of her editors as well as the imagery and artistry of her poems. Intended as a starting point for further research, this encyclopedia gathers more than 300 entries related to Dickinson and her poetry. The editor is a founding board member of the Emily Dickinson International Society as well as a professor of English and a past committee member of the MLA Division on American Literature to 1880. Thus, she brings both considerable education and experience as well as personal interest in the poet to her role as editor. Entries cover a wide range of topics, from people important in Dickinson's life to her stylistic traits. Rather than duplicate critical material available in the Joseph Duchac annotated guides (The Poems of Emily Dickinson: An Annotated Guide to Commentary Published in English, 1890^-1977 and 1978^-1989, both published by G. K. Hall), this volume has entries for only the 10 poems published in the poet's lifetime and those that regularly appear in anthologies. Other entries profile family members and friends, or consider the poet's use of circle imagery and capitalization, or discuss French responses to the poetry. There is an entry for Carlo, Dickinson's dog, and an entry on the Springfield Republican, a newspaper whose humorous sketches may have enhanced her comic sense. The preface is followed by a chronology, from the marriage of Emily Dickinson's parents in 1828 to the 1986 Dickinson Centennial Celebration in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. Entries are arranged alphabetically and are generally less than a page in length, although some longer entries, such as those for Dickinson's father, Edward, and her mentor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, cover nearly three pages. Most entries end with recommended readings, and all are signed. There are two appendixes, one consisting of the fascicles (the surviving manuscript books of poems as compiled by Dickinson) and one listing major archival collections. An extensive bibliography, an index of all poems cited, a general index, and a list of contributors complete the volume. This reference work is easy to use, rich in text and search mechanisms, and useful for students, both formal and informal. It is a highly readable, interesting volume that can be savored, as well as a useful guide and reference tool. It should find a place in academic and larger public libraries. Given the frequency with which Dickinson appears in the curriculum, it might also be considered by high-school libraries.

Choice Review

Eberwein (English, Oakland Univ. and author of Dickinson, Strategies of Limitation, CH, Nov'85) provides a unique resource, the first encyclopedia on Dickinson. She notes two similar works recently completed (Cynthia Hallen's The Emily Dickinson Lexicon and Gudrun Grabher, Roland Hagenb"uchle, and Cristianne Miller's The Emily Dickinson Handbook, both forthcoming) but they promise to differ significantly from hers. The entries include people, places, and institutions; the editing history of Dickinson's works; and the effect of different methodologies on Dickinson scholarship. Although 26 poems have their own entries and many more are referenced within entries, the encyclopedia does not attempt to be a source for critical pieces on Dickinson's poems. Contributors are mostly academics, many of them literature faculty or doctoral students studying or teaching Dickinson. The signed entries are easy to read and are rich with cross-references and citations as well as quotes from primary and secondary resources. The work includes a general bibliography, a chronology, an index of cited poems, a general index, an appendix of poems in Dickinson's copy books, and an annotated list of the major archival collections, including the Electronic Archives Project. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. N. G. Stewart; Georgetown University

Table of Contents

Preface Chronology
The Encyclopedia
Appendix A Fascicle Listings
Appendix B Major Archival Collections
Index of Poems Cited
General Index