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Coincidence or Fate: Emily Dickinson and Taylor Swift Are Distantly Related

Two famous women connected by their family tree

 Turns out Taylor was spot on when titling her 11th studio album, The Tortured Poets Department. The company Ancestry, which helps people to trace their genealogy, has found evidence that “renowned American poets Taylor Swift and Emily Dickinson are 6th cousins, three times removed.” Swift is promoting her album with the line, “All’s Fair in Love and Poetry.” Now, Swift’s penchant for poetry all makes sense. 

According to Ancestry, both women descend from a 17th-century English immigrant (Dickinson’s 6th great-grandfather and Swift’s 9th great-grandfather), who was an early settler of Windsor, Connecticut. 

Apparently, Swift’s ancestors remained in Connecticut for six generations, until her side of the family settled in northwestern Pennsylvania, where they married into the Swift family line. 

Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, and is regarded as one of the most important figures in American poetry. She lived reclusively in her family’s home, only publishing anonymously while she was alive. 

Swifties have long made connections between the two poets. On Dec. 10, 2020, Swift announced her album, Evermore, on Dickinson’s birthday. Some believe the title was inspired by Dickinson’s poem, “One Sister Have I in Our House,” which features the word “forevermore.” Fans have speculated that her 9th studio album was influenced by the 18th-century poet. 

A few days prior to the announcement, Swift discussed the cover of her previous album Folklore. She told Entertainment Weekly,I had this idea for the [Folklore album cover] that it would be this girl sleepwalking through the forest in a nightgown in 1830,” which also happens to be the year Dickinson was born.

Two years later, Swift referenced the legendary writer in her acceptance speech for the Songwriter-Artist of the Decade award from the Nashville Songwriters Association International. Here, she categorized her lyrics into three categories–quill, fountain pen, and glitter gel pen–which are representative of the writing instruments she imagines using. Swift further explained, “If my lyrics sound like a letter written by Emily Dickinson’s great-grandmother while sewing a lace curtain, that’s me writing in the quill genre,” noting that her single “Ivy” would fall under that category, a song that was featured in the Apple TV series about Dickinson’s life.

This news is relevant given Swift’s upcoming album, slated for release in April, entitled The Tortured Poets Department. During one of her Eras Tour shows in Australia, Swift mentioned the process of writing her new album over the past two years. She said, “It kind of reminded me of why songwriting was something that actually gets me through my life.” She continued telling fans, “I’ve never had an album where I needed songwriting more than I needed it on Tortured Poets.” 

The poets explore similar themes of emotional and psychological states such as pain, happiness, love, and loss in their work, often personifying the feelings they express through words. 

In one of Dickinson’s well-known poems “Hope,” she wrote: “Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tune without the words / And never stops at all,” creating a full circle moment as Swift continues the legacy of female poets in a world that requires hope more than ever. Their family ties could be mere coincidences, but where’s the hope in that? 

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About the Contributor
Andrea Criado Galindo
Andrea Criado Galindo, Staff Reporter
Andrea Criado, is a senior and writer for the culture and bilingual barons sections. In her free time she enjoys hanging out with friends, listening to music, reading and walking her dog.

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