Lavinia Dickinson’s 1851 Diary

See the 1851 Diary written by Lavinia Norcross Dickinson, in images of the manuscript, at Harvard:

Yesterday, I was searching (yet again) for any diaries written by FANNY (Smith) Seymour (1803-1871) (see my website TWO TEENS IN THE TIME OF AUSTEN); what I came up with was a site offering links to Digitized Diaries – on The Diary Index.

There are many names I recognize; many I wish to further explore.

High on the list is this manuscript by Emily Dickinson’s sister. I don’t know about you, but I find the SISTERS of Jane Austen [Cassandra Austen] and Emily Dickinson [Lavinia Dickinson] AS compelling as their more famous siblings.

Three books, on my bookshelves, that peek into the Dickinsons’ household:

  • After Emily, by Julie Dobrow (non-fiction) [2018]
  • Emily Dickinson’s Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell (non-fiction) [2019]
  • Emily’s House, by Amy Belding Brown (fiction) [2021]

I picked a page of Labinia’s diary at random, and have no experience of reading her handwriting; however, I am totally intrigued by an entry (for January 15th) which seemed a bit more legible:

“Wrote to Eliza [Elisa?] Coleman.
Went to ride with Mr [Chapin?],
I reverance [sic] him no longer”

I want to KNOW MORE!

But I’m not finding much out there (what am I missing??) that deals with Lavinia’s diary.

There is a 1973 Master’s Thesis by JANICE SPRADLEY McCARTHY, which documents “The Influence of Lavinia Dickinson and Susan Dickinson on Emily Dickinson.”

There is the Dickinson Museum’s biography of Lavinia Dickinson.

There is Desirée Henderson’s chapter in The New Emily Dickinson Studies entitled “Dickinson and the Diary“, which brings up some interesting points.

What I’d really have loved to find is a transcription of Lavinia Dickinson’s 1851 Diary. Alas…

2 comments on “Lavinia Dickinson’s 1851 Diary

  1. DH says:

    Thanks for promoting the Diary Index site and my essay on the Dickinson family diaries. I, too, wish there was a transcription available of Lavinia’s diary — it’s such a shame that one hasn’t been made yet! Cheers to a fellow diary lover!

    • Hi, Desiree – thanks for stopping by!

      Yes, I love your list, and must go back through it. Always fabulous to find diaries that people have put online, whether manuscript (as in the case of the Lavinia Dickinson diary) or transcription.


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