Photo: Amherst College Archives & Special Collections/Emily Dickinson Museum
Emily Dickinson was incredibly reclusive — so much so that there has long been only one known photograph of her. But now, a possible second image of the poet — a daguerreotype from 1859 owned by a private collector — has turned up in Amherst, Mass., Dickinson’s hometown.
Researchers are convinced it’s a picture of Dickinson in her 20s. In the image, a woman with a slight smile sits with her left arm extended tenderly behind the back of Dickinson’s friend Kate Scott Turner, who had recently become a widow.
A video comparison of the 1859 image with the already authenticated picture of Dickinson in 1847, at age 16, reveals strikingly similar facial characteristics. “The two women have the same eye opening size,” with the right eye opening just a bit wider than the left, says professor Susan Pepin of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Amherst College even found a fabric sample at the Emily Dickinson Museum that appeared to match the dress in the photo. The dress is a bit out of date for the times, and Amherst notes that a few years earlier Dickinson had told a friend, “I’m so old-fashioned, darling, all your friends would stare.”