White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson

by Brenda Wineapple

Hardcover, 2008




Knopf (2008), Edition: 1, 432 pages


The first book to portray one of the most remarkable friendships in American letters, that of Emily Dickinson--recluse, poet--and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, minister, literary figure, active abolitionist.


(29 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Your_local_coyote
Engrossing. Brenda has a way of making non-fiction come alive. She is masterful in combining Dickinson's poetry and Higginson's prose in an intriguing and thoughtful manner.
LibraryThing member kcshankd
Nice complement to the Sewall biography. Higginson is an amazing figure in his own right, even without the relationship with Dickinson. I especially loved the description of Emily's funeral.
LibraryThing member Devil_llama
A delightful biography of two complex and fascinating individuals who become more interesting in the conjoining of their stories. Too long considered a "wacky old maid", Dickinson comes off well in this work, without it being a hagiography so much as a correcting of the record that shows her with
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passions that burn like any other person, and willing to circumvent the onerous conventions that society laid (and still lays) on women. Was she depressed? Suffering from agoraphobia? This book does not engage in such futile speculations, instead presenting Dickinson through her own words and the words of contemporaries, not assuming that something must have been wrong with her, but also not going to great lengths to assure us that there wasn't. Higginson is also presented in his own right, rather than as history later judged him when standards changed and literature became a new type of commodity from what it was when he was writing. She allows them flaws and faults, without feeling that she must carp and scold about those. The writing is interesting and lucid, and the author includes enough photographs of the individuals she mentions to help make it real. Perhaps the one that comes off the worst in this work is Mabel Loomis Todd, but even then the author attempts to be as fair as possible, and avoid drawing conclusions beyond evidence, while presenting the various sides in terms of her motivations and her claims.
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National Book Critics Circle Award (Finalist — Biography — 2008)
Massachusetts Book Award (Honor Book — Nonfiction — 2009)


Original language


Physical description

432 p.; 6 inches


1400044014 / 9781400044016
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