When was Dickinson's first poem published? 

When was Emily Dickinson's first poem published?

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gracerankin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is an element of mystery surrounding the subject of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, her desire (or lack of desire) to see her works published, and whether her poems were published with or without her knowledge. By studying sources like the Emily Dickinson Museum, however, we can answer this question accurately.

We do know that ten of Dickinson’s letters/poems were published while she was alive, the first being a letter to George H. Gould in February of 1850 (see The Publication Question and Letters from Dickinson). 

Her first poem to appear in public was “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi,” which was published in February of 1852 in the Springfield Daily Republican, according to the Emily Dickinson Museum (see The Publication Question and the poem itself). 

The Emily Dickinson Museum also shares that Dickinson received no public credit for her poetry during her lifetime—her works were published anonymously.

The rest of her poetry was discovered by her sister after her death in 1886, and published over the course of several decades by various family members (again, see the Emily Dickinson Museum).