Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"I'm so old fashioned, Darling, that all your friends would stare"

people will note that the dress "Dickinson" wears seems to be out of date for a late 1850s photograph. However, that evidence may be of less significance when one considers the 23-year-old Dickinson's comment to friend Abiah Root in 1854, "I'm so old fashioned, Darling, that all your friends would stare" 

If the daguerreotype is eventually accepted as Dickinson, it will change our idea of her, providing a view of the poet as a mature woman showing striking presence, strength, and serenity. She (whoever she is) seems to be the one in charge here, the one who decided that on a certain day in a certain year, she and her friend would have their likenesses preserved. In fact, even if this photograph is not of Dickinson and Turner, it has still been of use in forcing us to imagine Dickinson as an adult, past the age of the ethereal-looking 16-year-old we have known for so many years.

We're glad the image has been released to the public and hope that anyone with information about the photograph will come forward. We want to hear the evidence, whether it's favorable or unfavorable to the proposed identification of the image as Emily Dickinson and Kate Scott Turner.  Perhaps someone in the Springfield, Massachusetts area, where the daguerreotype was purchased, will remember something about the provenance of the piece and let us know.

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