When Emily Dickinson died in the 1880s, she was a reclusive, barely published writer. Today, she is a fully canonized, iconic poet. Former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins says the progress of her status was unprecedented.
Lyndall Gordon's Lives Like Loaded Guns explores the family secrets of the reclusive 19th-century poet. Gordon theorizes that Dickinson may have been epileptic, and describes the cult-generational family feud over the posthumous publication of the poet's work.
Critic Maureen Corrigan recommends two books that you might want to give as holiday presents. First, a children's book called Emily, by Michael Bedard, about a young girl who meets Emily Dickinson. Second: The Open Door, a new paperback collection of writers writing about what made them love to read books when they were young.