Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born on December 10th 1830, one year after her brother Austin and three years before her sister Lavinia, in Amherst, Massachusetts, to Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson. The Dickinson children were raised in Christian tradition in a very prominent family in the quiet community of Amherst. Emily's grandfather, Samuel Fowler Dickinson, was the founder and trustee of the Amherst College and the Amherst Academy. Edward Dickinson followed in his father's footsteps into the position as trustee of the Amherst Institutions, as well as many other powerful positions in his lifetime: from Chief Marshall of the railroad to positions on many political organizations, such as the United States House of Representatives. Unlike her father, Emily didn't enjoy the popularity and excitement of the public life in Amherst. Throughout her life, her mother was emotionally unattainable, and as Emily once wrote to a friend, her father was "too busy with his Briefs-t!.
o notice what we do.” (qtd. in American Writers, 457). She filled the absences with poetry, and so she wrote to her heart and minds content. Poem #585, untitled by Emily, but later given the name Runaway Train and I Like To See It Lap The Miles, was proposed to have been written during Emily's most productive writing period, 1862. This incredibly intelligent woman was reared in a world that had a major impact on her poetry, including poem #585. The poem has a definite link to what she had been through in the past and also what she was seeing in the present.
At the age of 10, Emily began attending the Amherst College, where she benefited a good education due to her father's political standing in the community. She continued on to South Hadley Female Seminary, where she did extremely well. In 1848, after only one year at the college, she returned home due to homesickness, medical problems and also religious matters.