There is, currently, only one authenticated photograph of Dickinson in existence – the well-known image of the poet as a teenager in 1847. But Amherst College believes an 1859 daguerreotype may well also be an image of the reclusive, beloved poet, by now in her mid-20s and sitting with her recently widowed friend, Kate Scott Turner. If so, it will shed new light on the poet who, by the late 1850s, was withdrawing further and further from the world.
The college’s archives and special collections department has subjected the 1859 daguerreotype, owned by a New England collector, to multiple tests, including an ophthalmological report, and says that all of the current evidence is in favour of the woman on the left of the image being Dickinson….
Amherst has also searched the Emily Dickinson Museum’s textile collection and has found at least one fabric sample in a blue check it believes is a candidate for the dress the woman supposed to be Dickinson is wearing in the image. It is planning further work by a textile expert to determine whether the two are the same. The woman on the right, thought to be Kate Turner, is wearing widow’s black, “as would have been appropriate following the May, 1857 death of her young husband, Campbell Ladd Turner”, it said.
My favorite Christmas gift shows the blurring of Emily Dickinson’s poetry into her correspondence — and also that, whatever the exact nature of her feelings for her brother’s wife, Sue, she was definitely obsessed.
To Susan Gilbert Dickinson about 1861
Could I — then — shut the door —
Lest my beseeching face — at last —
Rejected — be — of Her?
[Editor’s Note] …The tension which developed between ED and Sue, when the infant Ned began to absorb Sue’s attention, is hinted at in this note, which is in the handwriting of about 1861.