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Jean Mudge Productions: Films, Videos & Books About Historic America



EMILY DICKINSON AND THE IMAGE OF HOME arises from the poet’s lifelong position with her family at home in Amherst, Massachusetts. Almost all her poems were composed in the Dickinson’s historic mansion on Main Street in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she gradually withdrew from society. Her writing reflects this physical and psychological situation. Dickinson’s frequently used image of home — and its details — draws an architectural plan of her house of poetry, bringing us closer than before to the unity underlying her imaginative world.
— University of Massachusetts Press, 1975; second printing, 1976
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“There is every reason, in the case of Emily Dickinson, for an interpreter to build from the ground up, giving a full account of the poet’s physical dwellings and of her life at home. Jean Mudge does this with great thoroughness and tact. She legitimately broadens her survey to include the notion of “home” in the poet’s favorite authors, and the development in Emily Dickinson of a spatial vocabulary in which to express her self, her emotional life, and her art. Mrs. Mudge’s excellent enquiry is anything but an offering of side lights; it is directly on the beam.”
— Richard Wilbur, former U.S. Poet Laureate

“Mudge here exhibits an extraordinary ingenuity in eliciting from the image of home a wide range of themes in Dickinson's poetry and revelations of her character. She successfully realizes her purpose ‘to note that in a significant number of her poems, the house or home figure synthesizes architectural reference with the revelation of mental or emotional states, at once giving a visual and figurative view of the poet’s inner and outer worlds.’” 
— Wayne McGuire, Department of English, Harvard University, Library Journal

“This rewarding work could hardly have been written had not its author been [resident] curator, for the past nine years, of the Dickinson Homestead (which she helped to restore). Thus Jean Mudge has almost literally been able to root her critical study in the actual home in which Emily Dickinson was born and in which she spent the last 31 years of her life. Here is an exploration in depth of the personal, emotional, literary, psychological and metaphysical meanings of ‘home’ as they are found in Dickinson’s poetry. Scarcely an admirer of this poet’s art (or of poetry itself) will fail to enjoy Jean Mudge’s sensitive study of Emily Dickinson’s ‘inscape of enclosure’ – the patterns of her mind as she responded throughout her poems to the concept of ‘home,’ using images, both realistic and figurative, that captured the essence of her life.”
— Publishers Weekly

“This scholarly and readable study of the vocabulary and the imagery of house and home represents a major inquiry into the life and art of Emily Dickinson. Emily’s two homes – the house on Pleasant Street and the Main Street mansion, including the conservatory – are traced as influences on and symbols of the poet's inner landscape (inscape). Other chapters include ‘Literary Antecedents to the Image of Home’ and ‘Amherst and Emily Dickinson.’ Jean Mudge… has achieved a mutually enriching blend of biography and criticism, especially in the final chapter on the religious poems and poems of psychic conflict. The text is accompanied by 23 illustrations, 40 pages of notes, 5 pages of bibliography, a frequency count of space words, and an index.”
— Choice

The Dickinson “Mansion” on Main Street in winter


ED’s conservatory at the “Mansion”