Emily Dickinson, at Home in Her ‘Full-Color Life’
In the winter of 1873, Emily Dickinson began a four-month sojourn to the East Coast of the United States. The trip was planned by her older brother, William and one of her college friends, Ellen Nesbit, who had accompanied Emily to the East Coast the previous fall. William also gave his sister a ring to symbolize her intended journey, and Emily would wear this ring when she arrived in New York City.
The trip was the first of Emily Dickinson’s travels outside the United States or Canada, and was an important, if slightly unsettling, step in her development as a writer. Dickinson would live and work in New York from mid-1873 until late 1875, and in late 1875 she would travel to Europe for the first time in her life, and would spend only a few months touring the country before beginning work on her first book about the Bible.
“I do not think that I have ever been separated from Emily, during the whole of this period, until we met again when we were both travelling eastward at the same time,” her brother noted. Their last meeting together before Dickinson’s East Coast journey took place in Baltimore. While there, William gave a manuscript poem to the poet, and the two shared a few moments of conversation.
On the afternoon of December 4, Emily Dickinson wrote a letter to her sister-in-law, Ellen Nesbit, describing her travel plans, and making plans to visit family in Philadelphia, where she had not been since 1854 or 1860. That evening, Emily Dickinson attended a reception at the home of Mabel Loomis Todd in the town of Concord, New Hampshire, and enjoyed the company of her friends, the poet and poetess Mabel Loomis Sedgwick and the scientist and scientist writer John William Waterhouse.
“It would require months and months and months of work to fill the space she gives us in these pages, since she