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A page from Emily Dickinson’s herbarium, or homemade book of pressed plant specimens. Assembled when Dickinson was a 14-year-old student at Amherst Academy, the book holds 65 pages of plants—400 total. Dickinson’s affection for collecting & identifying plants was one that many young girls and women of her time would have shared. She became a lifelong gardener & often included dried flowers in her correspondence. Houghton Library, Harvard University. #naturalist

Though only a few of Dickinson's poems were printed during her lifetime, many people remembered receiving one of them, often tucked into an exquisite bouquet that she had grown and arranged herself. These interests can be traced in her literary work as well. Indeed, more than two-thirds of Dickinson's lyrical letters to family and chosen friends and one-third of her brilliantly idiosyncratic poems have wildflowers or other flowers as their subject.

Emily Dickinson's Herbarium

Emily Dickinson’s Herbarium, digital facsimile. By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University; via nybg

Emily Dickinson's Herbarium ...She was better known in her own community as a gardener/botanist than as a poet...of particular poignancy are the botanical specimens forwarded by friends to this woman who lived in virtual seclusion for much of her life: a leaf from Heidelburg castle, a fern from the Elysian fields in Greece, a stalk from the Garden of Gethsemane.

Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886. Herbarium, circa 1839-1846. 1 volume (66 pages) in green cloth case; 37 cm. MS Am 1118.11, Houghton Library © President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Emily Dickinson, Herbarium, circa 1839-1846. 1 volume (66 pages) in green cloth case; 37 cm. MS Am 1118.11, Houghton Library © President and Fellows of Harvard College