The 1955 edition of Emily Dickinson's poetry--the first complete edition--edited by Thomas Johnson, led to the publication of the impressive three-volume The Letters of Emily Dickinson (1958). Edited by Johnson and Theodora Van Wagenen Ward, The Letters of Emily Dickinson was the first work to contain all known extant letters from the poet. The availability of Dickinson's correspondence so soon after the publication of her complete poems catapulted the study of Dickinson into new realms. Biographers have found Dickinson's letters crucial to piecing together the poet's life; among the most significant correspondences were those with brother Austin, mentor Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and sister-in-law Susan Dickinson. Literary scholars have examined Dickinson’s letter writing in a discussion of genre—was Dickinson writing in prose, or poetry, or some new form altogether as she developed her letter-writing skills? The manuscript letters, which are often dated, have also aided scholars in dating the poem manuscripts, which usually did not include a date.
Evidence is presented that Alexander the Great, Captain James Cook, Emily Dickinson, and Florence Nightingale each developed symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder in the aftermath of repeated potentially traumatizing events of differing character. Their case histories also varied with respect to background, premorbid personality style, risk factors, clinical presentation, and course of the illness, illustrating the pleomorphic character of the disorder, as well as the special problems in diagnosing it in historical figures.