December 3, 2008
Contact: Donna M. Abelli
Development and Marketing Manager

AMHERST, Mass. – The Emily Dickinson Museum will commemorate the 178th birthday of its namesake on Thursday, Dec. 11, with a celebratory birthday dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lewis-Sebring dining room in Amherst College’s Valentine Hall. The dinner party will feature an extravagant full-course dinner buffet, wine and a specially created signature dessert by Amherst College baker Karen Macmillan. Ticket prices are $75 to $150 per person; those interested should call 413-542-5084 for information and reservations.

The event will be in the style of a 19th-century family gathering, complete with music the Dickinson family knew, performed by Michael Pattavina, banjoist; Anita Cooper, vocal soloist; and Grant Moss, accompanist. The evening will end with desserts, including the new signature cake, cordials and a birthday toast to the poet by Dickinson scholar Polly Longsworth.

Jane Wald, executive director of the museum, explained that “in the Victorian age, dinner parties were carefully staged, and next door to Emily Dickinson, her brother Austin and his accomplished wife Susan set a high standard for Amherst society.” Wald continued, “Guests from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Harriet Beecher Stowe sat before the parlor fire, discussing insights about the most vibrant ideas of the day while scalloped oysters and bright currant jelly were served on gilt-edged plates.” 

The Victorian-style dinner party will recapture the delights of evenings in the setting of a sumptuous feast, rediscovering the finest of dining fare and customs in 19th-century Amherst society. Donations excluding the cost of dinner are tax-deductible.

The Emily Dickinson Museum, comprising the Dickinson Homestead and The Evergreens, is devoted to the story and legacy of poet Emily Dickinson and her family. Both properties are owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. The museum is overseen by a separate Board of Governors charged with raising its operating and capital funds. The Dickinson Homestead was the birthplace and residence of the poet (1830-1886). The Evergreens was the 1856 home of the poet’s brother and sister-in-law, Austin and Susan Dickinson.

The Emily Dickinson Museum is located at 280 Main St. in Amherst, Mass. The official museum Web site is at Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., through Dec. 28; the museum is closed on major holidays.