New Emily Dickinson Biography

Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's FeudsLives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds

Publisher's Weekly writes:  Although deciphering Emily Dickinson's mysterious personality is like trying to catch a ghost, this startling biography explains quite a lot. 

On the reviews from Amazon, most people give it 2-3 stars because they dislike Gordon's epilepsy diagnosis about Dickinson.  One person gave it five stars and loved it.

I haven't read it yet, but it's on my summer reading list.

Here's a review from The Boston Review that goes into a little more detail about the book.

LIVES LIKE LOADED GUNS: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s FeudsBy Lyndall Gordon
Viking, 491 pp., illustrated, $32.95



  1. I've just put this on my list, too. Thank you for the link to the Boston Review article, which I enjoyed.

  2. Of and on for the last two years or so,I have been reading a complete collection of Emily Dickinson's poems but I wasn't sure which biography was the best to pick up. I have a feeling a more traditional one might be better for me to start with. Do you have one you suggest?

    my capture code was slubbelf nice are they calling me names now!

  3. Did you read The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson? Maybe you've posted on the book previously. Just finished and overall I was disappointed as I thought the artifice lost its appeal as the novel proceeded.
    Wondering about your thoughts.

  4. I am reading this book right now, and it had better get a little more coherent--the beginning is a bit of a mess.

    And Jessie--I read and loved an ED bio called My Wars Are Laid Away in Books--totally great.

  5. Maureen- let me know what you think when you read it!

    Jessie-- Hilarious word verification! I would recommend My Emily Dickinson by Susan Howe (though this deals more with her work than a bio, but still has interesting insights) and Emily Dickinson: A Biography by Connie Ann Kirk. Definitely the best bio I know of. It was written to teach not to create controversy.

    Pam- I have seen that book (and book cover!) all over the place but haven't read it. I think I would have your feelings if I read it. I'm not much into fictionalizing Emily, she is too rich in my mind and I feel I'd feel as if she was being manipulated.

    Leslie-- I just started Loaded Gun & I am so glad to hear you say that. I was losing track of characters and if they were talking about Emily or her sister-in-law or whomever! It felt as if we were playing hopscotch as we were all over the place! I hope it becomes less of a mess as I'm definitely interested in it.

    And thanks for the bio recommendation for Jessie, I have not read that that one.

  6. Thanks for all this info! This is one I'll look for, and I'll be yearning for your book of poems, too.

  7. I'd read it for the title alone. That was always one of my favorite's of Emily's.


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