Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830 - May 15, 1886), nineteenth century United States poet was born in Amherst, Massachusetts to a prominent family known for support of the local educational institutions. Emily's grandfather, Samuel Fowler Dickinson, was one of the founders of Amherst College, and her father served as lawyer and treasurer for the institution. Emily's father also served in powerful positions on the General Court of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts State Senate, and the United States House of Representatives.
During a religious revival that swept Western Massachusetts during the decades of 1840-50, Dickinson found her vocation as a poet. One of her biographers has suggested that Dickinson thought of becoming a poet in the Biblical terms of Jacob wrestling with the angel.
Dickinson lived most of her life in the house in which she was born, made a few trips to visit relatives in Boston, Cambridge, and Connecticut. Most of her work is not only reflective of the small moments of what happens around her, but also of the larger battles and themes of what was happening in the larger society. For example, over half of her poems were written during the years of the American Civil War. In the words of one of her most memorable lines, Dickinson's poems tell all the truth but tell it slant:
- Tell all the Truth but tell it slantó
- Success in Circuit lies
- Too bright for our infirm Delight
- The Truth's superb surprise
- As Lightning to the Children eased
- With explanation kind
- The Truth must dazzle gradually
- Or everyman be blindó
She died, as she was born, in Amherst, Massachusetts.