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Scholars may have 2nd photo of reclusive poet Emily Dickinson

By The Associated Press Modified: September 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm •  Published: September 9, 2012
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/articleid/3708278/1/pictures/1823094">Photo - This photo released by Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, and the Emily Dickinson Museum, in Amherst, Mass., shows a copy of a circa 1860 daguerreotype purported to show a 30-year-old Emily Dickinson, left, with her friend Kate Scott Turner. The image was displayed during the August 2012 Emily Dickinson International Society conference held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.  AP Photo/Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, and the Emily Dickinson Museum <strong></strong>
This photo released by Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, and the Emily Dickinson Museum, in Amherst, Mass., shows a copy of a circa 1860 daguerreotype purported to show a 30-year-old Emily Dickinson, left, with her friend Kate Scott Turner. The image was displayed during the August 2012 Emily Dickinson International Society conference held at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. AP Photo/Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, and the Emily Dickinson Museum

Researchers can't yet definitively say the photo is Dickinson, but “I think we can get beyond reasonable doubt,” Kelly said

That could shift some perceptions about the Amherst native, Kelly said. For instance, a book in the 1950s was the first to propose Dickinson had a lesbian relationship with Turner, Kelly said.

“This is photographic evidence of their friendship, whatever the nature of that friendship was,” he said.

The photo contradicts a misperception that Dickinson never left her house, when in fact she was quite social in her younger years, Kelly said. It also offers a strikingly different image from the existing photo of Dickinson as a frail, teen girl, which was taken before she began writing poetry. The newer image was taken when she was roughly 30.

“This is really when she's coming into the height of her powers,” Kelly said. “To see her as this fully mature woman rather than this sickly little girl, I think it just shifts the way people think about what she's writing.”

Amherst's collections department has a copy of the daguerreotype, which it says can be viewed on request.


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