Martha AckmannApr 28, 2020
These Fevered Days
Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson
W. W. Norton & Company 2020
After a life lived in obscurity, Emily Dickinson emerged after death as one of the greatest poets of her time. In These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson (W. W. Norton, 2020), Martha Ackmann traces her evolution as a poet by focusing on some of the key moments in her life that defined and shaped her as a writer. The daughter of a prosperous attorney, Dickinson did not have the concerns of work or marriage that defined the lives of the women of her era. Without them she was able to focus on composing poems, a task to which she dedicated herself at an early age. While the vast majority of her poems remained unpublished during her lifetime, this did not reflect her desire to be distinguished. In response to an article by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, she sent him four of her poems, inaugurating what would become a lifelong correspondence between the two of them. Though Higginson was instrumental in the posthumous publication of Dickinson’s poems, it took Dickinson’s death in 1886 before she gained the distinction she had desired throughout her life.