Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet
This event includes a book signing
November 5, 2018
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome writer and Tufts professor JULIE DOBROW for a discussion of her new book, After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet.
About After Emily
Despite Emily Dickinson’s world renown, the story of the two women most responsible for her initial posthumous publication―Mabel Loomis Todd and her daughter, Millicent Todd Bingham―has remained in the shadows of the archives. A rich and compelling portrait of women who refused to be confined by the social mores of their era, After Emily explores Mabel and Millicent’s complex bond, as well as the powerful literary legacy they shared.
Mabel’s tangled relationships with the Dickinsons―including a thirteen-year extramarital relationship with Emily’s brother, Austin―roiled the small town of Amherst, Massachusetts. After Emily’s death, Mabel’s connection to the family and reputation as an intelligent, artistic, and industrious woman in her own right led her to the enormous trove of poems Emily left behind. So began the herculean task of transcribing, editing, and promoting Emily’s work, a task that would consume and complicate the lives of both Mabel and her daughter. As the popularity of the poems grew, legal issues arose between the Dickinson and Todd families, dredging up their scandals: the affair, the ownership of Emily’s poetry, and the right to define the so-called "Belle of Amherst."
Utilizing hundreds of overlooked letters and diaries to weave together the stories of three unstoppable women, Julie Dobrow explores the intrigue of Emily Dickinson’s literary beginnings. After Emily sheds light on the importance of the earliest editions of Emily’s work―including the controversial editorial decisions made to introduce her singular genius to the world―and reveals the surprising impact Mabel and Millicent had on the poet we know today.
“Julie Dobrow has grabbed a tiger by the tail in her skillful reanalysis of Mabel Loomis Todd’s role in recognizing, preserving, publishing, and promoting Emily Dickinson’s powerful poetry . . . Dobrow weaves the vitality of the personal into her scholarship, surprising and enlightening readers about one of America’s greatest literary rescues.” —Polly Longsworth, author of Austin and Mabel
“An honest, sometimes searing portrait of the two idiosyncratic women, mother and daughter, who between them delivered Emily Dickinson’s 'letter to the World'―rescuing this genius hermit from obscurity by deciphering and publishing her sheaves of high voltage poetry . . . Riveting, unblinkered, sad, and brave, After Emily makes the case for these two posthumous amanuenses as urgent agents of critical work we came so near to losing.” —Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of Wicked and Hiddensee
“Dobrow has succeeded in illuminating more fully than ever before the intricate net of desires, both conscious and unconscious, that led Mabel Loomis Todd and Millicent Todd Bingham to undertake the editing of Emily Dickinson’s writings. In Dobrow’s rendering, biography fuses with American tragedy. After Emily is a book for and of our time: a meditation on the nature of agency and the role of affect in women’s lives and writing.” —Marta Werner, author of Emily Dickinson’s Open Folios
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.
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