A New Room for Emily Dickinson: Amherst Poet’s Bedroom Undergoes Historic Renovation

October 6, 2015
By Rachel Rogol

Emily's mantel

Plans for restoring the home of Amherst-born poet Emily Dickinson have been underway since 2003, when Amherst College acquired the house next door (owned by Emily’s brother Austin) and merged the two historic homes to create the Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens.

Now the renovation of Emily’s bedroom—where she composed nearly all 1,789 of her poems—is not only complete, but historically accurate, from the books on her mantel to the reproduction wallpaper created from pieces discovered above her ceiling.

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Acclaimed Author Reimagines Dickinson Love Affair in New Historical Novel


Amherst

March 3, 2015
By Rachel Rogol

Even if you’ve never heard his name, chances are you’re familiar with William Nicholson’s work. An award-winning screenwriter whose film credits include Shadowlands, Gladiator, Elizabeth: the Golden Age and Les Misérables, among others, Nicholson is also an acclaimed author who writes both for adults and younger readers.

His most recent project is Amherst, a historical novel that intersperses a fictional modern-day love story with the historically accurate love affair between Austin Dickinson (brother of Emily Dickinson and Amherst College Treasurer from 1873 until his death in 1895) and his mistress Mabel Loomis Todd (wife of David Todd, Class of 1875, who served the college as Instructor in Astronomy and Director of the Observatory). Both the Dickinson and Todd families were intimately involved in the life of Amherst College from its very beginning.

Nicholson's new novel recreates Austin and Mabel's scandalous affair from numerous letters between the two and cites snippets of Emily Dickinson's poems throughout. "It's in some ways my love letter to the poet Emily Dickinson, who I first encountered over forty years ago," Nicholson wrote on his blog. "Her poems shock and thrill me as much today as they did then."

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Digitizing Dickinson (and Shakespeare)

In keeping with Amherst’s motto, Terras Irradient, the new Amherst College Press is part of a broader effort at the college to make in­formation more widely available online.

The Folger Shakespeare Library (which is administered under the auspices of Amherst) has just released—online and for free—“meticulously edited” versions of the 12 most popular Shakespeare plays. Folger Director Michael Witmore believes the texts will become “the electronic edition of record for Shakespeare’s plays.” More digitized plays and poems are forthcoming.