7. Emily Dickinson

One of history’s most famous reclusive writers.

Dickinson, from the outside, may have been the image of a madwoman in the attic. However, her extreme social phobia didn’t prevent her from being an incredibly prolific (albeit, posthumous) poet. Dickinson wrote about 1800 poems, but published less than a dozen during her life. This apparent shyness could be due to what many scholars now see as an anxiety disorder. Dickinson effectively retreated from society in her twenties, rarely leaving the house in her older years. She was even reported to have once fled from the sound of neighbors approaching her home. The only company she seems to have enjoyed was that of her family, a few close friends, and some of the neighborhood children.

Top Ten Real-Life Spinsters: Emily Dickinson

Whether her aversion to most social interactions was truly the result of a medical condition or simply a desire to live a cloistered life, Dickinson used her time alone to create volumes of poetry that are beloved throughout the world today. Her lyrical style, descriptive imagery, and universal themes have given her a level of fame she never wanted in life.

Though some scholars speculate Emily Dickinson had a secret love interest (derived from passionate letters written only to “Master”), she never had any open romantic relationships. And although she got along well with children, her poems don’t mention of any longing for one of her own. She was a spinster until the very end.

See the full list of Top 10 Real-Life Spinsters here.

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