Emily Dickinson won no literary awards during her lifetime. Although she wrote almost 1,800 poems, fewer than 12 were published in her lifetime, and the first volume of her poetry was not compiled and published until after her death.
Emily Dickinson attended Amherst Academy in Amherst, Mass., and began writing poetry when she was still a teenager. Although she did well at school, she was frequently absent due to illness. Various teachers and acquaintances were germinal to her development as a writer. After she left school, she rarely left her family home, known as The Homestead. She cared for her sick mother, maintained voluminous correspondence with friends and filled notebooks with poetry. Eventually, her seclusion became so severe that she rarely left her room.
Although a few of Dickenson's poems appeared in such publications as the "Springfield Republican," "Drum Beat" and the "Brooklyn Daily Union," most of her poems remained unedited in 40 notebooks and some loose sheets upon her death. Her sister Lavinia became determined to have them published. In November 1890, the collection "Poems" appeared. It contained 115 poems and was an immediate success. Several more volumes were published in the next few years. However, many early editors altered Dickenson's idiosyncratic punctuation, and it was not until 1955 that the editor of a scholarly three-volume set of her poetry attempted to restore Dickenson's original formatting and punctuation.