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The "belle of Amherst," Emily Dickinson, attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary for a year, but otherwise seldom left her home and had few visitors. However, she maintained a wide correspondence and spent much time with her nuclear family, who also provided her with intellectual companionship. Shakespeare, the Metaphysical poets of 17th-century England, the Bible, and her conservative New England background were all major influences on her poetry. Miss Dickinson was an extremely prolific poet but was not publicly recognized during her lifetime, publishing fewer than a dozen poems. She died at age 55, possibly of chronic kidney disease. After her death, her family discovered 40 handmade books containing nearly 1,800 more poems. The first volume of her work was issued in 1890. Today she is considered one of the most important American poets.
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