Magazine article American Libraries

Folger's Multi-Library Dickinson Exhibit Brings Poet to Life

Magazine article American Libraries

Folger's Multi-Library Dickinson Exhibit Brings Poet to Life

Article excerpt

Folger's multi-libary Dickinson exhibit brings poet to life

"The real drama is in such great work appearing on such small pieces of paper," said Katharine Zadravec, project director of a conference and exhibition celebrating Emily Dickinson as a poet at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Zadravec wrote the NEH grant proposal for the project.

Entitled "Emily Dickinson: Letter to the World," the amazing array of the poet's letters, manuscripts, and memorabilia ran from May 4 to June 30.

A two-day conference preceding the exhibit brought 250 international visitors to hear presentations on the poet by 17 noted scholars and authors from around the world. Speakers included Yale University's Richard Sewall, who wrote The Life of Emily Dickinson; NYU Professor Jay Leyda, author of the pathfinding study, Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson; and Polly Longsworth, author of Austin and Mabel, the story of the love affair between Emily's brother and the poet's first editor. Misunderstood and ignored for decades, Dickinson (1830-1886) was honored and her work inspected by the assembled devotees who wandered through the Folger. On view were such items as a valentine to her father's law associate, a line she had written on the back of a chocolate wrapper to be reworked later, and a print from a daguerrotype that is the only known photographic image of Dickinson taken in her lifetime.

Zadravec called the event "the first Dickinson exhibit of significance in more than 50 years." According to Director Werner Gundersheimer, the exhibition also marked Folger's first museum show devoted to a woman writer and the first in the Great Hall derived solely from books and objects outside the research library's own collection.

Chief libraries contributing

"Most of the items came from Amherst College's Robert Frost Library, the Houghton Library at Harvard, Boston Public Library, and the Jones Library, the little public library in Amherst, Mass," Zadravec said. …

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