Emily Dickinson, though widely recognized as one of the most important American poets, was unrecognized during her own life time. Posthumous publication revealed her to be an original and prolific poet, whose spare, compressed style had a great influence on the direction of 20th century poetry.
Emily Dickinson was born on Dec. 10, 1830, in Amherst, Mass. She attended the Amherst Academy, an institution founded by her paternal grandfather, Samuel Dickinson. She also attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. While a good student, she suffered from frequent illness and depression. She left school at the age of 18 and returned home to Amherst, where she remained for the rest of her life.
She began writing poetry when she was a teenager and, during the course of her adult life, filled many notebooks with poems, all without her family ever being aware of it. While she enjoyed an active correspondence with many people, she became more and more reclusive as she grew older, rarely leaving home.
While it's sometimes believed that she was unpublished in her lifetime, a small handful of her poems did receive publication, though even these few were severely edited so they would conform with more traditional verse structure. She wrote nearly 1,800 poems during her lifetime. Unconventional and personal, her verse was highly influential, and she remains an icon of modern American poetry.