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Emily Dickinson in Love: The Case for Otis Lord Hardcover – April 18, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; First Edition edition (April 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813552753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813552750
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,176,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Emily Dickinson is popularly portrayed as a recluse who shunned romance and love. As Dickinson biographer Walsh points out in this compelling tale of love and mystery, Dickinson’s only documented affair of the heart—with the elderly Otis Lord—didn’t happen until she was in her 50s, about eight years before her death. Their involvement, which began in 1877, after Lord’s wife’s death, continued for seven years until Lord’s death in 1884. The two shared a fully committed love, though they met infrequently, otherwise expressing their feelings in letters. But scholars have been faced with a mystery regarding Dickinson’s earlier love life: letters published 50 years ago reveal a romantic attachment in her 30s with an unidentified man she called 'Master.' With painstaking detective work, Walsh examines each of these letters, comparing them with Dickinson’s confessional poetry and other letters, and claims that 'Master' was Lord, who ruled Dickinson’s heart much earlier than previously known. It was at the end of the affair that Dickinson became the familiar recluse dressed in white. In appendixes, Walsh presents the text and reproductions of the 'Master letters.'"
(Publishers Weekly 2012-03-12)

"The mention of Emily Dickinson's name does not generally conjure up images of a hot-blodded hussy sneaking off for steamy encounters with a married man who was old enough to be her father. But that's essentially the picture the author presents in this intriguing piece of literary detective work. The love story Walsh tells is compelling."
(Foreword Reviews 2012-06-01)

"You don’t have to be a Dickinson scholar to appreciate the details of research and informed speculation revealed in Emily Dickinson in Love. A cache of letters, which appeared in the possession of a literary confidence man in the decade after Dickinson’s death, were found to be a series of intense, emotional declarations by the poet to someone she called 'Master,' with whom she had clearly been infatuated for years. At the time, the Dickinson family was convinced of their authenticity, and, indeed, there is every reason to believe that they were written by Emily Dickinson—but to whom? The author here makes a compelling argument for Otis Lord, two decades older than Emily, a distinguished judge of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and married. There is no evidence that the meeting of these two disparate minds ever led to anything more than a fierce emotional bond, featuring chaste meetings in Boston and
at the Dickinson household. But Walsh makes a persuasive case that Judge Lord was, in fact, the Master, and finds suggestions to support his notion throughout Dickinson’s poetry."
(Weekly Standard 2012-07-02)

About the Author

JOHN EVANGELIST WALSH is the author of numerous books of biography and history, including biographies of Emily Dickinson, John Keats, and Robert Frost as well as two well-received works on Abraham Lincoln. He has three times been a finalist for an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, winning once for Poe the Detective: The Curious Circumstances Behind "The Mystery of Marie Roget." His book The Shadows Rise: Abraham Lincoln and the Ann Rutledge Legend was a finalist for the prestigious Gettysburg Prize.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Rockland reader on October 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Walsh fictionalizes the romance between Emily Dickinson and Otis Lord as well as the discovery of the letters that turned up in the possession of Millicent Todd Bingham. Much of it is highly believable and great fun to read. The book offers an expanded view of what we already know. There is very little that is new here, other than speculation about how the letters came into the possession of Austin Dickinson. I enjoyed it but it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I find Walsh's speculations very seductive. He is quite the literary detective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Born in NH on October 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Any Dickinson fan will be glad to read this book. It's well researched and well written. I just wish we could find out even more about Dickinson and her life, but she seemed to plan it that way. You have to read her poetry to find out most of what she thought, felt, and did, but the author here does an excellent job of drawing conclusions through what is available. I did learn more about Emily Dickinson's heart, which I appreciate greatly. She came even more alive for me in reading this book. Recommended!
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