Judith Farr
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I NEVER CAME TO YOU IN WHITE, A Novel of Emily Dickinson (1996)

From The New Yorker, December 23 and 30, 1996:

“In this odd, compelling epistolary novel, the author depicts the adolescent Emily Dickinson as she may have appeared to those around her, particularly during the bleak year she spent at Mary Lyon’s Female Seminary, in exile from her beloved Amherst.  Farr, who is a Dickinson scholar, has a nearly perfect ear: the correspondence she imaginatively transcribes here — peculiar, incandescent, astonishing — rings true.”

Richard Wilbur, former Poet Laureate of the United States:

“This artful novel succeeds very well in showing how Emily Dickinson might have been seen or mis-seen by conventional girls of her own age, by an envious and puritanical teacher, by a high-minded literary clergyman, by would-be literary women, or by a headmistress with a lesbian past.”

From The New York Times, October 20, 1996:

“A daring attempt to flesh out the characters and events in the world of that eccentric genius of Amherst, Emily Dickinson.  And Ms. Farr pulls it off in style. ..Satisfying reading, [and] artful insights into an elusive life.”

Richard Eder, “A Heart in Port,” in the Los Angeles Times, September 8, 1996:

“The figure suggested by the letters is an inspired intuition of what it could have felt like to be Emily and what it could have felt like to encounter her: difficult – perhaps reclusion was her safeguard….Farr’s portrait of Emily is entirely congruent with the poetry.  Her method – each of its own dashes a twig constructing ahill stream and sending up geysers of spray – confronts us with both  a tangible figure and a mystery that remains untouched and unspoiled.  Like the poems, Farr’s story is present and elusive.’

Diane Wood Middlebrook, author of "Anne Sexton: A Biography":

This work of fiction — meticulously researched, delicately attuned to the language of the times — provides an explanation more persuasive than any biography ever will, of what happened to the girl on the brink of womanhood to make her the pertson who wrote those poems.  A startlingly good read..”



Richard B. Sewall, author of "The Life of Emily Dickinson":

Judith Farr has reared a structure that, in the hurly-burly of…Emily Dickinson biography and criticism, I am sure will stand.”

Louis L. Martz, author of "The Poetry of Meditation":

“This brilliant and authoritative study illuminates Emily Dickinson’s poetry as no other book has.  Farr places the poetry in a rich and significant context of biography, literature, and visual art.  This is a major book that will stand the test of years.”

John Wilmerding, Princeton University:

“Farr has opened new ground in our understanding of the poetry.  I find entirely convincing her consideration of the relationhips with Hudson River and Luminist painting in the period.  This work substantially contributes to our discourse on nineteenth-century art.”

Louis D. Rubin, Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

“Farr has produced what beyond question is far and away the best book on Emily Dickinson’s poetry yet written.”



Verlyn Klinkenberg,  “New York Times Book Review”:

“This book catches a constant tension in Dickinson’s life.  An interesting, skillful gardener, she had a strong literal regard for the immediate world in which she gardened.  And yetr the garden in her poems is never just her garden.  Nature serves her visionary passion.”

Madeleine Minson, “Times Higher Education Supplement”:

“Farr brings together a wealth of material about Dickinson’s engagement with flowers.  Her book, which is full of close readings, is likely to become the standard work on the subject.  As Farr shows, Dickinson’s gardening and writing were intertwined enterprises, which both required a great deal of care.”

Susan Salter Reynolds, “Los Angeles Times”:

“This is a beautiful book….So intertwined are Dickinson’s verses with  her life in flowers that they seem to be the lens through which she saw the world.”

Tom D’Evelyn, “Providence Journal”:

“For bringing us so close to Emily Dickinson that one can almost hear her breathing… "The Gardens of Emily Dickinson" deserves wide readership.”