"She writes finely, but no one ever sees her"

 

"I must tell you about the character of Amherst. It is a lady whom people call 'the myth.' She is a sister of Mr. Dickinson, and seems to be the climax of all the family oddity. She has not been outside of her own house in fifteen years, except once to see a new church, when she crept out at night and viewed it by moonlight. No one who calls upon her, no one who ever calls upon her mother and sister, ever sees her, but she allows little children once in a great while, and one at time, to come in, when she gives them cake and candy or some nicety, for she is very fond of little ones. But more often, she lets down the sweetmeat by string out of a window to them.

She dresses wholly in white, and her mind is said to be perfectly wonderful. She writes finely, but no one ever sees her. Her sister, who was at Mrs. Dickinson's party, invited me to come and sing to her mother sometime and I promised to go & if the performance pleases her, a servant will enter with wine for me, or a flower, & perhaps her thanks; but just probably the token of approval will not come then, but a few days after, some dainty present will appear for me at twilight. People tell me 'the myth' will hear every note -- she will be near, but unseen.

...Isn't that like a book? So interesting. No one knows the cause of her isolation, but of course there are dozens of reasons assigned." 

 

I liked the recent article about artistic recluses in T Magazine, which referenced this letter that Mabel Loomis Todd wrote to her parents in 1881 upon moving to Amherst and learning of her new neighbor, Emily Dickinson.

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