The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson

By Martha Dickinson Bianchi; Emily Dickinson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
SCHOOL DAYS

IN the fall of 1847, Emily entered South Hadley Female Seminary, which was at that time a unique establishment of learning, one of whose avowed objects was to provide mates for the missionaries sent out to the foreign field. It was in advance of the other Young Ladies' Seminaries in scope and grade, and had been founded by Mary Lyon with a zeal for service that infected all the fellowship of her co-workers. Her assistants drove over the hills far and near, day and night, summer and winter, collecting the necessary funds; many a woman still living remembers the words of her mother -- "Put the kettle on, Miss White is turning in. She will be tired out, and want to spend the night"; for Ashfield supplied one of the most devoted pillagers of the neighborhood treasuries, and Great-Aunt Hannah White was known and served wherever she went on this mission of endowment.

At first Emily was desperately homesick and thought she should not live. She explained it touchingly by saying, "You see I have such a very dear home." Owing to the long list of applicants Miss Lyon had raised the standards of admission; the examinations were severe and had to be done in a specified time or the unfortunate was sent home. The nervous strain affected Emily with her excitable nature, until she exclaims, "I am sure I could never endure the suspense I endured during those three days again for all the treasure of the world!"

There were three hundred girls, and she found the

-22-

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The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents xi
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Part I - The Life of Emily Dickinson 1
  • Chapter I - Ancestry *
  • Chapter II - Childhood 12
  • Chapter III - School Days 22
  • Chapter IV - Social Life at Amherst Seventy Years Ago 1848--1853-54 33
  • Chapter V - The End of Peace 1853-55 43
  • Chapter VI - A Hedge Away 1856-62 52
  • Chapter VII - Later Years with Friends and Books 66
  • Chapter VIII - Her Religion 88
  • Part II - Letters of Emily Dickinson 1845-1886 107
  • Index 383
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