Edited by Mabel Loomis Todd. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1896. Original white cloth decorated in gilt with green cloth spine, all page edges gilt.
First Edition, which consisted of only 1,000 copies.
Emily [1830-1886] attended Amherst Academy; spent one year (1847-48) at South Hadley Female Seminary (ancestress of Mount Holyoke College); visited Washington and Philadelphia for a few weeks in the spring of 1854, while her father was in Congress; spent part of 1864 and 1865 in Boston to be treated for eye trouble; and died at fifty-five of Bright's disease. That is the entire record of her outward life. It is the least important thing about her.
To account for Emily Dickinson the recluse, who for twenty years never went farther than her garden gate, who saw no one but her family and a very few chosen friends, who dressed always in white and wrote her poems secretly on scraps of paper, rolled and tied with a thread and thrust into bureau drawers, one need not imagine any strange mysteries of love and renunciation. Certainly Emily loved an unknown man, loved him deeply and unceasingly, but could not or would not marry him...
She had the same sort of demanding, tyrannical, autocratic, and possessive father as did Elizabeth Barrett; and she did not escape... Emily's lover was not strong enough to overcome the terrific attachment, half love, half fear, that tied her to [her father] Edward Dickinson... Her hermit life, driven into and upon herself, was her answer to the tyranny which turned an ardent, gay, witty girl into a shy and withered spinster... [K&H]
Other than a few poems anonymously contributed, none of Emily's verse was published during her lifetime (-- to avoid what she called "the auction of the mind"). After her death, her brother Austin and sister Lavinia (who controlled the manuscripts) arranged to have a volume published in 1890; one of the friends who edited it, T.W. Higginson, could not convince Houghton Mifflin (for whom he worked) to publish it -- as they considered it "confused." Roberts Bros tentatively issued just 500 copies, and was then dumbfounded to see the book meet unprecedented demand and quickly run through many printings. Thus a "Second Series" of additional poems was published in 1891 (960 copies), followed by this "Third [and last] Series" in 1896. The cover design for all three volumes includes Indian pipes -- from a painting Mabel Loomis Todd had given to Emily in 1882 that thereafter hung in the latter's bedroom -- what Emily called her "preferred flower of life."
The 1,000 copies were bound in two similar cloth bindings (no priority, but of differing price). Binding A, as here, is white cloth with gilt Indian pipes, with pea-green cloth spine and all page edges gilt (priced at $1.50); binding B is grey or olive cloth, beveled board edges (also with the Indian pipes), with only the top edge gilt (priced at $1.25). Of the two cloth bindings, this "A" is generally a bit more sought-after -- because it is a closer match to the only binding in which the First Series of poems had come out, and because today "A" binding copies are scarcer than "B" binding copies.
This copy is in very good-plus, perhaps near-fine condition -- the only noteworthy flaw being a damp-mark at the top of the rear board. The white cloth is generally rather clean, the front cover and spine gilt is bright, and the endpapers are intact. Myerson A4.1.a. Item #13934