Guests in Eden


THE LAST of her direct line of the distinguished Dickinson family that settled in Massachusetts in 1630, Martha Dick­inson Bianchi was born in Amherst on November 30, 1866. She was the only daughter of William Austin Dickinson, Emily Dickinson's only brother, and Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson, Emily Dickinson's friend and confidante from girl­hood. Her father, an attorney, was well known in his time as a man of unusual power and ability. He was the treasurer of Amherst College for some twenty years, following his father, Edward Dickinson, who was treasurer for nearly forty years. Madame Bianchi's great-grandfather, Samuel Fowler Dickinson, was one of the founders of the college and was instrumental not only in securing its charter but in the actual selection of the town of Amherst for its site.

Madame Bianchi was educated chiefly at private schools and by tutors from Amherst College. She attended Miss Porter's School at Farmington, Connecticut, and later studied at the Smith College School of Music for several years, and with Agnes Morgan, the noted teacher of piano in New York, for four years. She was an unusually accomplished musician, and at THE EVERGREENS (the family home in Amherst) were welcomed especially all lovers of music. She was a fluent linguist with a unique familiarity with French, German, Italian and Russian literature. In 1931 Amherst College conferred upon her the degree of Doctor of Letters.

Early in the nineties, Madame Bianchi began her literary career under the name, Martha-Gilbert Dickinson, scores of her contributions appearing in Harper's, The Century, The Atlantic Monthly, Scribner's, and other magazines. After her marriage to the late Captain Alexander Bianchi she lived abroad for a number of years, her villa on the French Riviera, the LILAS BLANC, being a rendezvous for Continental society as well as visiting Americans. She traveled extensively in the British Isles, Russia, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Greece,

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Transcription and commentary copyright 2000 by
Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved.
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Last updated on March 10, 2008

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