"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.'"
"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."
"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."
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.