The room where Emily Dickinson spent most of her days has been known to bring visitors to tears. The misanthropic poet likely wrote every one of her 1,800 poems in the second-floor bedroom in Amherst, Massachusetts. And it’s now available to rent for an hour or two, furnished exactly as it was then.
The two-year restoration of the bedroom was finished in August 2015. It’s been accessible to visitors since the Emily Dickinson Museum opened, but thanks to the preservation efforts, the experience is now much more authentic.
One of the additions was custom wallpaper based on scraps of the original wallpaper found on the room’s west wall. The bed and stove are original, but everything else went to the Emily Dickinson Collection at Harvard. Replicas have been made to replace them, including the bureau where hundreds of poems were found after Dickinson’s death, and the tiny writing table at which she sat looking out the window at Main Street. The bed is roped off, and touching anything but a provided folding table is off-limits.
The museum also offers visitors the chance to rent the room for one or two hours. They’re welcome to bring a pencil and paper, or a computer. No more than two people are allowed in the room at once, and the door must remain open at all times (as to not enlighten misery).
The museum notes that no poems were found under the floorboards after Dickinson’s death. But they did find a needle in the space between two of them. It conjures up an image of the recluse sewing better stitches into the pockets she’d had added to her dresses, so she could carry around a notebook and pencil.