“Scandal and pathos abound” (The New Yorker) in this riveting account of the mother and daughter who brought Emily Dickinson’s genius to light.
Longlisted for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography • Finalist for the Plutarch Award
Despite Emily Dickinson’s 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. Utilizing hundreds of overlooked letters and diaries to weave together three unstoppable women, Julie Dobrow reveals the intrigue of Dickinson’s literary beginnings, including Mabel’s tumultuous affair with Emily’s brother, Austin Dickinson, controversial editorial decisions, and a battle over the right to define the so-called Belle of Amherst.
About the Author
Julie Dobrow is a professor and director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Tufts University. Her writing has appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine and the Huffington Post, among others. She lives outside of Boston.
Juicy behind-the-scenes literary history.
— Michael Dirda
Long overdue.… At the end of her book, Ms. Dobrow wonders what Mabel and Millicent would think of her good work. Doubtless, they’d be very pleased.
— Brenda Wineapple
An extraordinary feat in rendering a tale of almost dizzying intrigue.
— Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist
[Dobrow] serves as a kind of fiercely clever detective in stitching together Todd’s remarkable influence and all the other little intrigues behind the marketing of Dickinson and her legacy.
— Jerome Charyn
[Julie] Dobrow’s intimate account reveals how decisively [Mabel and Millicent’s] efforts shaped perceptions of the white-clad recluse and her visionary poems. Scandal and pathos abound.
Provocative.… [After Emily] aims a spotlight into a shadowy, scandal-laced corner of Amherst in the late 19th century, adding valuable, and fraught, backstory to how Dickinson’s poetry… got published and marketed.
— Nina MacLaughlin
After Emily situates the Todds in a richly documented, beautifully written, and persuasive family romance.
— Vivian Pollak
Elegantly and movingly told.… [Dobrow] has done an admirable job sifting through the detritus to distill the essence of these women, their work and the world they inhabited.
— Robert Weibezahl
After Emily is an essential contribution not just to Dickinsonian scholarship but to understanding the forces of a hundred years of American history.… Dobrow’s beautiful prose is a joy to the ear, her thoughtful relationship to her subjects is delightfully captured, and the peeks throughout into the mind of Emily Dickinson are a revelation, even as her exploration of her two main characters is a valuable addition to women’s biography that will offer much to scholars and pleasure readers alike.
— Misty Urban
An elegant recovery of the two women without whom ‘Because I could not stop for Death’ likely wouldn’t be required reading for American high school students.… [A] fresh, remarkable account.