We Dickinsons Essay - Critical Context

Aileen L. Fisher, Olive Rabe

Critical Context

We Dickinsons, a Junior Literary Guild selection, seems an excellent choice for young adult readers. They can read the poetry of a gifted writer and enjoy the account of a rebel and eccentric who never lost touch with the child within her.

Fisher and Rabe are both well-known writers of stories for children and young adults. Lovers of nature themselves, they shared a cabin in the foothills near Boulder, Colorado, while they collaborated on We Dickinsons and We Alcotts: The Story of Louisa M. Alcott’s Family as Seen Through the Eyes of “Marmee,” Mother of “Little Women” (1968), both about nineteenth century women writers. Certainly their love of the poetry of Emily Dickinson is reflected in their narration of the story of her life.

For example, Fisher and Rabe re-create wonderfully the social context of life in a small New England town to support the story of the young adult years of Emily and Austin. Social events such as sugaring-off parties, sleigh rides on winter nights, and college teas make the lives of Emily, Austin, and Lavinia sound as exciting and fun-filled as those of contemporary young people. It is often repeated that Emily, with her witty sayings, was a prized guest at these affairs.

Another way the authors create a very human Dickinson is to show her influence on others. In spite of the rarity of her appearance in seeing visitors in the parlor of her home and her refusal to travel outside the house, she had many devoted friends who realized her value as a person and a writer. Since its publication, We Dickinsons has created many more friends for this unique New England woman.