Emily Dickinson Quiz

By: Staff Writer
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

"I'm nobody! Who are you?"-Emily Dickinson. How much do you know about legendary poet Emily Dickinson and her works of art? Find out by taking this quiz!

When was Emily Dickinson born?

She was born in 1830 and lived in Massachusetts. She died at age 55.

From an early age, Dickinson was drawn to which subject?

She often found herself engrossed in the natural world and especially plants -- she was known as an active gardener for much of her life.

Thomas Higginson was the editor of which publication?

Higginson, editor of Atlantic Monthly, published a plea for new writers to submit their work. Emily sent him four poems, and it started a lifelong mentorship and friendship.

How many times did Dickinson meet Higginson, who edited much of her work over a span of decades?

She met her primary editor only twice in her life. That probably suited Higginson, who found Emily's intensity overwhelming.

Dickinson's family was essentially impoverished.

Her father was a prominent politician who served in Congress, and her brother was an attorney.

Among her friends and family, what was a common nickname for Dickinson?

After briefly attending a seminary school, Dickinson retreated to a reclusive lifestyle in which she rarely saw other people, thus the nickname Queen Recluse.

What is one likely reason that Dickinson retreated into a reclusive life?

Because her father was so well-known and well-connected, people stopped by at all hours of the day, and Dickinson was expected to play a role in this social circus, something she clearly was not cut out for.

How many of Dickinson's poems were published while she was alive?

She wrote nearly 2,000 poems, but fewer than 12 were published during her life.

What is a "fascicle"?

Dickinson assembled her poems into handmade, handwritten fascicles, slender volumes of carefully organized work.

Dickinson was know for her liberal usage of which punctuation mark?

Dickinson's poems are strewn with dashes meant to control the flow of her work. She used dashes in strange, unique ways, sometimes even making vertical dashes.

Dickinson was a devout Christian.

Dickinson defied religious norms and grew more distant from her religious childhood as she grew older.

Who was Benjamin Franklin Newton?

Newton was a young attorney who worked for Dickinson's father. He introduced young Emily to new poets that she learned to appreciate.

Dickinson was known for almost exclusively wearing which color of clothing?

She may have been a recluse who wrote dark poetry, but she wore almost nothing but white. Only one of her dresses survives.

At the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, each student's faith was regularly assessed and rated in one of three categories. In which category did Dickinson fall?

Dickinson fell in the "without hope" category, summing up her feelings about religion in general.

Dickinson most often used what style to construct her poems?

She frequently employed the use of trimeter, in which lines consist of three iambic feet (an iamb is a foot containing an unaccented syllable followed by an unaccented syllable).

How did Emily respond to Thomas Higginson's editing advice?

Emily was appreciative of his insights and incorporated some of his advice into her work. She even credited him with saving her life once, although no one was quite sure what that meant.

What was the name of Dickinson's dog?

The brown Newfoundland dog was named Carlo, after the dog that appeared in "Jane Eyre," one of her favorite books.

How old was Dickinson's dog Carlo when he died?

Carlo lived to the ripe old age of 17, long enough to leave a lasting mark on Emily's life. Carlo made numerous appearances in her work and in her letters.

How did many of Dickinson's poems end?

Dickinson explored all avenues of the mind, and the inconclusive nature of many of her poems leaves readers to explore their own minds as well.

How did Dickinson treat children?

Even though she rarely encountered kids, Dickinson enjoyed children. In true Queen Recluse nature, she would lower treats to children using a rope and basket dangling from a second-story window.

Dickinson was fond of household chores.

She was not keen on housework and was used to servants doing most of the family chores. Emily was, however, quite skilled at baking.

As Dickinson became more and more reclusive, how did she receive visitors?

She withdrew to the point that she would speak to some visitors without even opening the door, all the better to shorten their conversations.

When she sent poems to her friends, what else did often include?

She would press flowers and send them along with her writing. In one instance she claimed that they enjoyed the flowers more than her poems.

How did Dickinson die?

She died from kidney disease. At the end of her life she was no longer really editing or organizing her work.

When was Dickinson's first volume of poetry published?

Her first volume wasn't published until 1890 … four years after she died. The last volume was published in 1955.

Dickinson's parents both suffered from which physical ailment?

Her father died from a stroke, and her mother's stroke left her disabled. Emily was left to help care for her mother, with whom she had a distant relationship.

When was the last time Dickinson left her family's property?

Dickinson became so reclusive that she never left the property. She didn't set foot off of the lawn in the last 20 years of her life.

In what year was the first volume of Dickinson's published in the order that she intended?

A careful researcher used physical evidence to reassemble the handwritten packets that the poet created. In 1981, he published a volume of poems in the correct order.

How was Dickinson's first posthumous volume of work received by critics?

Some critics were bemused; others seemed to like her work. In the 20th century, critics began to see Dickinson as a visionary artist and she is now regarded as one of the best literary minds in history.

What happened to many of Dickinson's letters after she died?

Emily had ordered her sister to burn most of her letters, which is exactly what happened. The lost letters may have helped scholars understand many unanswered questions about Dickinson's life.

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!

Explore More Quizzes