Adolescence & Youth
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born on 10 December 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts in the United States of America. She was born into a successful family with strong community ties. She was regarded as a well-behaved and well-educated daughter of a prominent, though not wealthy family. She had an older brother named William Austin and a younger sister named Lavinia Norcross.
William followed his father as a student of law and during his life he participated in many community events. He was the most social of his siblings. Lavinia was much like Emily in secluding herself in her home and not being very social. Lavinia should be credited with the survival of Emily's work because although promising Emily on her death bed to destroy the poems, Lavinia found her work to valuable and allowed it to be published.
Emily also had a burst of religious revelation when she was fifteen. She wrote to a friend saying: "I never enjoyed such perfect peace and happiness as the short time in which I felt I had found my saviour." This experience did not last and in her later life, she never made a formal declaration of her faith and attended only a few masses a year. This experience is connected to a common theme in amongst her poetry. Emily often wrote poems reflecting on the teachings of Christ and many are, in fact, addressed to him.