Emily Dickinson’s poetry remained mostly unpublished during her lifetime, and a diverse scholarship has developed around her wild and affecting poems, much of which remain in manuscript. Howe (1993) is a great guide to Dickinson’s idiosyncratic punctuation, which argues that the poems should be read in manuscript where the poet’s various marks are extant. Howe (1985) illuminates the vast literary, historical, religious, and political background that informs Dickinson’s work. Miller (1987) interprets Dickinson’s peculiar grammar to be a conscious and deliberate deviation from the standard use of her contemporaries.
Fuss (2004) gives a sense of the interior of Dickinson’s house where she spent most of her life and examines this condition in relation to Dickinson’s poetry. Diana Fuss is currently a professor at Princeton. Professors Josh Kotin, Lee Mitchell, and Sarah Rivett are also Dickinson specialists and welcome any questions about her work.
You can see Dickinson’s manuscripts for yourself at this internet archive here. If you feel like watching a film, Jane Campion’s The Piano a film about female artistry partly inspired by Dickinson’s poetry. The title track, composed by Michael Nyman, takes its name from “The Heart Asks Pleasure First,” no. 588 in the Franklin edition. More recent films include Terrence Davies’s A Quiet Passion, starring Cynthia Nixon.
Fuss, Diana. “Dickinson’s Eye.” In The Sense of an Interior: Four Writers and the Rooms That Shaped Them, 9-29. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Howe, Susan. My Emily Dickinson. Berkeley, Calif.: North Atlantic Books, 1985.
Howe, Susan. “These Flames and Generosities of the Heart: Emily Dickinson and the Illogic of Sumptuary Values.” In The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History, 131-153. Middletown, CT. Wesleyan University Press, 1993.
Miller, Cristanne. Emily Dickinson, a Poet’s Grammar. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987.
Pollak, Vivian. A Historical Guide to Emily Dickinson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Smith, Martha Nell, and Mary Loeffelholz, eds. A Companion to Emily Dickinson. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2008.
Clune, Michael. “How Poems Know What It’s Like to Die.” ELH 83, no. 2 (2016): 633-654.
Emily Dickinson’s Fascicles
A web archive of Emily Dickinson’s manuscripts
The Piano (1993)
New Zealand director Jane Campion’s film inspired by the poetry of Emilies Dickinson and Brontë