What is the background of a poet? How do poets learn to write poetry? What role does encouragement and praise from others play in the development of a poet? How do the pressures of the literary marketplace shape the work of poets? This site explores two of the most significant literary relationships in American history: that between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman, and that between Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Emily Dickinson. Emerson and Higginson, both distinguished literary figures during the 1850s and 1860s, had important exchanges with Whitman and Dickinson, young poets they wished to encourage and influence.

Susan Belasco, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
with the assistance of Robert K. Nelson & Seth Bruggeman, College of William & Mary
Part of "The Classroom Electric: Dickinson, Whitman, and American Culture"