Posted on 10/03/2021 at 04:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

A lock of hair purportedly from poet Emily Dickinson is for sale on eBay, with an asking price of nearly half a million dollars.

That fact, though, is far from the only bizarre part of the entire saga.

Literary Hub explores the probable origins of this artifact, if it’s what it claims to be, and the various ethical concerns that its provenance and sale raise.

One version: Poet James Merrill broke into Dickinson’s niece’s house as an undergrad and stole some items, including the locks of hair.

Fellow poet J.D. McClatchy was one of Merrill’s literary executors; when McClatchy died, the locks were sold in his estate sale to Mark Gallagher, who has them up at eBay right now.

Another version: Merrill’s other executor, Stephen Yenser, says Merrill found the locks inside a book he probably bought from a rare-books dealer.

Read the Lit Hub piece on the alleged Dickinson hair drama and decide for yourself.

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Categories: Today in Books

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