The definitive treatment of Dickinson's life in the context of her times and the development of her poetry. Emily Dickinson, arguably the greatest and most moving of American poets, has also been the most elusive and mysterious. Alfred Habegger has drawn on massive new research as well as the work of previous scholars to assemble the first solidly documented account of her life, one that presents its varied elements in a richly braided and chronological narrative.
Weaving in her religious background, her father's uncompromising Whig politics, her close yet distant family life, her attachments to her chosen friends, her driving expressiveness, and her supremely private integrity, Habegger presents a magisterial picture of genius in the act of formation, and then in the act of overwhelming production.
Who was Dickinson's mysterious lover? Was she lesbian? Why was "not telling" so integral a part of her life and art? How did the Civil War enter into her profound struggles as an artist and a woman? Are there discernable phases in the development of her poetry? My Wars Are Laid Away in Books marshals the best available answers to such questions.
Although Emily Dickinson will continue to perplex readers, Alfred Habegger has at last given us a convincingly clear picture of what she was really like.