After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet

Norton. Oct. 2018. 384p. photos. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780393249262. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393249279. LIT
OrangeReviewStar(1830–86) would not be known as America's Greatest Poet. Here, Dobrow (Ctr. for Interdisciplinary Studies, Tufts Univ.) tells the women's stories. As a family friend of the Dickinsons in Amherst, MA, Mabel was introduced to Emily's poetry, which she found quite powerful. Complicating matters, Mabel began a decade-long affair with Emily's also-married brother, Austin. Following Emily's death, Mabel worked hard to get her poetry into print and succeeded, which led to long-lasting personal and legal feuds with Emily's heirs. Millicent sought her own path, free from her mother's entanglements, including the poet's oeuvre, but her own intellectual interests as a geographer soon played second fiddle to Emily and her legacy when a cache of hidden manuscripts was revealed.
VERDICT The biographical material related to Emily Dickinson's legacy is the work's driving force, but Dobrow's skillful account of Mabel's and Millicent's lives makes this page-turner a must-read for the poet's most ardent fans.

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