A possible new photo of poet Emily Dickinson has surfaced, from her hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts. The photograph of the reclusive 19th century poet also includes her friend Kate Scott Turner, pictured on the right.
If the photograph is really of Dickinson, then it is just the second known image of her, with the first showing a 16-year-old Dickinson, reports The New York Daily News.
The first photograph, taken in 1847, is in the archives of Amherst College. The school’s founder is Emily’s father, Edward Dickinson, and claims that the anonymous woman in the photograph is indeed the famous poet.
Dickinson’s companion in the photo is her friend Turner, who had recently lost her husband before the photo was taken. While there may never be an official confirmation that Dickinson is the woman in the picture, Amherst College has gone to great lengths to determine if it is indeed the celebrated poet.
Susan Pepin, a medical expert, has concluded that, when compared with the first known picture of Emily Dickinson, the new picture is definitely of an older Emily Dickinson. The Emily Dickinson Museum has even found a fabric sample from their collection that matches the dress the woman is wearing in the picture.
The New York Times notes that, as for the dress the woman wears being out-of-date for the 1850s, a 23-year-old Dickinson once told friend Abiah Root in 1854 that, “I’m so old fashioned, Darling, that all your friends would stare.”
While we may not ever know for sure if the woman in the newly discovered photograph is really Emily Dickinson, her contribution to American literature has already immortalized her. Meanwhile, Amherst College continues their quest to positively identify the woman as Emily Dickinson.