William Austin Dickinson

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William Austin Dickinson
William Austin Dickinson daguerreotype.jpg
Daguerreotype portrait of William Austin Dickinson, early 1850s
Born April 16, 1829
Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died August 16, 1895
Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S.

William Austin Dickinson (April 16, 1829 – August 16, 1895) was an American lawyer. Known to family and friends as "Austin", he was the older brother of the poet Emily Dickinson.

After graduating from both Amherst College and Harvard Law School, he joined his father, Edward Dickinson, in his law practice. After his father's death, Austin became treasurer of Amherst College from 1873 until his death. In addition to his law practice and treasury work, Dickinson took part in numerous civic projects and responsibilities, such as moderating the town meetings from 1881 until his death, and acting as president of the Village Improvement Association.[1]

Dickinson married Susan Huntington Gilbert, a friend of his sister Emily from childhood, in 1856. They had three children and resided at the Evergreens, which stood adjacent to the Dickinson Homestead. Aside from his connection to his world-famous sister, Emily, Austin is also known for his longtime affair with Mabel Loomis Todd, a young faculty wife who would eventually edit the first few collections of Emily Dickinson's poetry.


  • Longsworth, Polly. 1984. Austin and Mabel: The Amherst Affair and Love Letters of Austin Dickinson and Mabel Loomis Todd. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-10716-5.
  • Sewall, Richard B.. 1974. The Life of Emily Dickinson. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 0-674-53080-2.


  1. ^ Sewall, p. 117