A woman wearing a white dress and taking to her bedroom is not particularly unusual, except when it becomes a permanent choice and your name happens to be Emily Dickinson. But when a woman wearing a white dress that was an exact copy of the reclusive Dickinson drapery, and with similarly mimicked shoes and hair made a guest appearance at the Morgan Library’s current exhibition, poetry was aligned with intrigue. And that is exactly what the scholar intended. Challenged by the lack of enthusiasm from her students for poetry, Dr. Sylvia Baer turned up to class wearing a reddish black wig and a dress copied from Emily’s own. This caused an immediate conversion, the cult of Emily Dickinson was reignited, and fifteen years later Sylvia is booked for literary gigs all over the country.
According to Sylvia, Emily called the shade of her hair sherry – in particular the colour one would find in the puddle at the bottom of one’s glass. Of course the professor had to undertake extensive research for the sake of authenticity, ultimately deciding her wig should be more the colour of Harvey’s Bristol Cream than Tio Pepe. Meanwhile I am considering a new do myself, particularly at a time when my natural colour and the trending platinum shades converge. There may even be poetry in the transformation to an elegant sauvignon blanc, or a cheeky champagne….