letters from dickinson to frances and louise norcross

Thomas Johnson's Note on Letter 471

MANUSCRIPT: destroyed.

PUBLICATION: L (1894) 282; LL 298-299; L (1931) 256-257.

The reference ot advertisements of the "fall trade" in the newspapers places this letter in August. According to the Amherst weather records, the summer of 1876 was unusually hot and dry. President Stearns had died in June (see letter no. 463). Evidently the Norcrosses were as familiar as ED with Elizabeth Gaskell's remarkable and highly controversial The Life of Charlotte Bronte, first published in 1857, and reissued several times thereafter. Branwell Bronte was the black sheep of the family, and ED's connection of the color of his hair with the color of a new cat of Vinnie's is appropriately explained by a sentence in Mrs. Gaskell's Life (chapter VII): "Branwell was rather a handsome boy, with 'tawny' hair, to use Miss Bronte's phrase for a more obnoxious color."

The scripture quotation is from Matthew 24:44: "Therefore be ye also rady: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."

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Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Lara Vetter <lv26@umail.umd.edu>
Last updated on December 21, 1998