Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds

Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds

by Lyndall Gordon


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"Lives Like Loaded Guns...reads like a fabulous detective story...[Gordon] takes us into undiscovered territory." —The Washington Post 

A great companion to fans of the film A Quiet Passion, starring Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson and the new series Dickinson.

In 1882, Emily Dickinson's brother, Austin, began an adulterous love affair with the accomplished and ravishing Mabel Todd, setting in motion a series of events that would forever change the lives of the Dickinson family. Award-winning biographer Lyndall Gordon tells the story of the feud that erupted-and that still continues today. Making unprecedented use of letters, diaries, and legal documents, Gordon proposes a groundbreaking new solution to the secret behind the poet's insistent seclusion, presenting a woman beyond her time who found love, spirituality, and immortality all on her own terms.

The first major biography of Dickinson in nearly ten years, Lives Like Loaded Guns is a highly acclaimed story of creative genius, illicit passion, and betrayal that will forever change the way we view one of America's most important literary figures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143119142
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/31/2011
Pages: 528
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Lyndall Gordon is a British writer and academic popular for her literary biographies on notable persons such as Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Brontë, and T. S. Eliot. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Cape Town and later went on to graduate with a doctorate from Columbia University in New York City. Her work has earned her many awards, including the British Academy’s Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Cheltenham Prize for Literature. Gordon is now a Senior Research Fellow at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford.

Table of Contents

I A Poet Next Door 1

II 'A Still - Volcano - Life'

1 The First Family 21

2 A Scientific Education 39

3 Sister 61

4 'Wife Without the Sign' 93

5 'Snarl in the Brain' 114

6 Telling 137

7 Romancing Judge Lord 156

8 Split in the Family 169

III Mabel's Reign

9 Emily's Stand 197

10 Lady Macbeth of Amherst 231

11 Mabel in Excelsis 250

IV The War Between the Houses

12 Lavinia's Stand 279

13 The Trial 299

14 Defeats of the First Generation 313

15 Two Daughters 326

16 The Battle of the Daughters 345

17 Posthumous Campaigns 369

V Outliving the Legend 399

Sources 407

Notes 425

Acknowledgements 471

Index 475

Index of First Lines 490

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From the Publisher

"A jolting and utterly intriguing watershed achievement." —-Booklist Starred Review

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