“But in the process of attempting to read copies of every letter Emily had written, Smith got distracted. ‘I start coming across things like seven lines erased, half of the page cut out, words erased,’ she tells me. ‘And I’m like, What in the world is this? And so I asked to go see the manuscripts at Amherst College — that’s where most of the mutilated manuscripts are.’ Once there, new spectrographic technology made it possible for Smith to recapture what had been censored on the pages and to quickly realize that the lines being erased were ‘these affectionate expressions about her sister-in-law, Susan.’
‘When I started reading the correspondence to Susan, I was like, This stuff is pretty sexy,’ Smith recalls. ‘I found myself thinking: If all of this was sent to any man in Dickinson’s life, there wouldn’t be any kind of argument about who was the love of her life.