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Approximately 100 letters are published here for the first time, including almost all of the letters to Jane Humphrey and to Mrs. J. Howard Sweetser. The new material is even more extensive than it might appear, for many of the letters previously published were censored when first made public. This volume, designed to accompany Mr. Johnson’s previously published work, the widely acclaimed Poems of Emily Dickinson, assembles all of Emily Dickinson’s letters (with the exception of letters presumably destroyed). The editors present the letters chronologically, with manuscript location, previous publication data, and notes for each letter, together with a general introduction, and biographical notes on recipients of letters.
The notes for each letter identify persons and events mentioned, and the source of literary allusions and quotations is given wherever known. Since Emily Dickinson rarely dated her letters after 1850, the dates for the most part must be conjectured from careful study of handwriting changes and from internal evidence of the letters. Of the 1,150 letters and prose fragments included in this outstanding edition, the text of about 800 derives from Dickinson autographs.