Why read your own copy of Charlotte Brönte’s novel Jane Eyre when you could read Emily Dickinson’s copy? Can you find the two passages the poet marked in pencil? (Hint: the marks are in the margin on page 418 and the passages are devastating.) Houghton Library is in fact home to 30 volumes known to have been associated with—i.e. owned or read by—the reclusive bard, and nearly 600 owned by her family. Over half of the volumes in the Dickinson family library are available fully online, including Emily Dickinson’s bible which features markings, excised verses, and carefully laid botanical specimens; her brother’s copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Conduct of Life; and her niece’s copy of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
If you still haven’t gotten your fix of Emily, why not peruse her herbarium, gaze at her writing desk, and of course, read her manuscript poems. (We also heartily recommend watching Apple TV’s Dickinson—a joyous, playful interpretation of the poet’s teenage years.)
Thanks to Christine Jacobson, Assistant Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts, for contributing this post. Houghton From Home is a series of posts highlighting our digitized collections. For more items from across the Harvard Library, visit Harvard Digital Collections.