Todd, Mabel Loomis, 1856-1932

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Mabel Loomis Todd was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on November 10, 1856. She married David Peck Todd in 1879, and they moved to Amherst, Massachusetts where her husband taught astronomy at Amherst College. Mabel Loomis Todd soon became intimately involved with William Austin Dickinson, brother of Emily Dickinson. Mrs. Todd later edited the first published poems of Emily Dickinson. She also travelled on scientific expeditions with her husband, lectured professionally, and wrote several articles and books. The Todds lived their final years in Florida. Mabel Loomis Todd died on October 14, 1932.

From the description of Mabel Loomis Todd papers, 1863-1948 (inclusive) (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 145079239

From the description of Mabel Loomis Todd papers, 1863-1948 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702153550

Mabel Loomis was born 10 November 1856 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the daughter of Eben Jenks Loomis, an astronomer and mathematician, and Mary Alden (Wilder) Loomis. She was educated in private schools in Washington, DC and Boston, and married David Peck Todd in 1879. After her husband's appointment as professor of astronomy and director of the observatory at Amherst College in Massachusetts, the couple traveled around the world to study eclipses of the sun and other phenomena. On Todd's first trip to Japan she became the first woman to climb Mount Fuji. She went on to write several well-received books on astronomy and became a noted lecturer on that topic. In Amherst, Todd taught at private schools for young women, participated in church events, and helped to organize civic and literary groups, such as the Amherst Historical Society, the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Boston Authors' Club. She also became friends with William Austin Dickinson, brother of Emily Dickinson and the Amherst College treasurer. Publicly the two worked together to preserve the town's natural environment; privately they engaged in a thirteen year long affair while remaining married; apparently their spouses knew of the relationship. After Austin's death, his wife Susan successfully challenged his will, which left a major bequest to Mabel. When Emily Dickinson died in 1886, over 1700 manuscript poems were discovered in her house. Todd began the arduous task of deciphering the handwriting, collating the variants, arranging the poems chronologically, and transcribing them for publication. She published two series of Dickinson's poems with Thomas Wentworth Higginson in 1890 and 1891, and a third series on her own in 1896. Mabel Todd was responsible for bringing the first volumes of Emily Dickinson's verse to the reading public, but her estrangement from the Dickinson family following Austin's death in 1895 forced her to postpone work on the remaining poems. Todd's daughter Millicent Todd Bingham drew upon her editorial work when she published her own edition of Dickinson's poems, Bolts of Melody, over a decade later. In 1913 Todd became partially paralyzed, but in the last nineteen years of her life she continued to be culturally and socially active in Miami, Florida, where she wintered. She died in 1932 of a cerebral hemmorage. Her papers are in the Boston Public Library.

From the description of Mabel Loomis Todd letters, 1932. (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 36949299

Mabel Loomis Todd was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on November 10, 1856. She married David Peck Todd in 1879, and they moved to Amherst, Massachusetts where her husband taught astronomy at Amherst College. Mabel Loomis Todd soon became intimately involved with William Austin Dickinson, brother of Emily Dickinson. Mrs. Todd later edited the first published poems of Emily Dickinson. She also travelled on scientific expeditions with her husband, lectured professionally, and wrote several articles and books. The Todds lived their final years in Florida. Mabel Loomis Todd died on October 14, 1932.

Mabel Loomis Todd was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 10 November 1856, the only child of Eben Jenks Loomis and Mary Alden (Wilder) Loomis. Her father, an astronomer, mathematician, and naturalist, worked on the American Emphemeris and Nautical Almanac in Cambridge. Her mother, a descendant of many prominent Congregational ministers including John Alden of Plymouth Colony, maintained a household proud of its lineage. From the beginning, Eben and Mary Loomis instructed their daughter in all the social graces expected of a cultured nineteenth century woman.

Mabel Loomis Todd received her education in Boston and Washington, D.C., beginning school in 1865 at the Boston South End School for Young Ladies. When her father moved to Washington, D.C., in 1869, she transferred to the Georgetown Female Seminary, where she remained until 1874. For several years thereafter, she lived in Boston and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. In 1878 she met one of the young astronomers in her father's office, David Peck Todd, and, after a thirteen month courtship, married him on 4 March 1879. One year later, she gave birth to her only child, Millicent.

Mabel Todd's relatively peaceful life ended when her husband accepted a teaching position at Amherst College in 1881 and moved the family to the small New England town of Amherst, Massachusetts. Almost immediately the Todds were accepted by the town's social elite, including its most prominent family--the Dickinsons. It proved to be a fateful association. When the Todds first met William Austin Dickinson and his wife, Susan, Mabel and Austin were immediately attracted to one another and soon began an affair. The affair, which lasted until Austin's death in 1895, created enormous resentment within the Dickinson family, resentment which surfaced in disputes over the poetry of Austin's talented sister, Emily.

Emily Dickinson, now the most famous member of the family, lived near the Todds with her sister Lavinia. Although Mabel Todd never met the reclusive poet face-to-face, she did have an opportunity to read some of her poems during her many visits to the Dickinson house. Upon Emily's death in 1886, Lavinia Dickinson tried in vain to find an editor to publish her sister's unusual poems. In desperation she approached Mabel Loomis Todd and asked her to bring Emily's poems to public attention. Mabel Todd agreed, and with the collaboration of Thomas Wentworth Higginson, she transcribed, edited, and published two volumes of Emily Dickinson's poems (1890, 1891). They were an instant success. Mabel Todd went on to edit herself a collection of Dickinson letters (1894) and a third volume of poems (1898). Mabel Loomis Todd was one of the few who recognized the skill and power of Emily Dickinson's poetry, and modern scholarship now credits her with bringing this poetry to the world.

In 1898, however, Mabel Todd stopped work on the poems due to serious conflicts with other members of the Dickinson family. These conflicts stemmed from her relationship with Austin Dickinson. After Austin's death, his widow openly opposed Mabel Todd's control of Emily Dickinson's poems, and she especially opposed her efforts to secure a piece of Dickinson land as compensation for her editorial work. Mabel Todd persuaded Lavinia Dickinson to sign over the land, but Lavinia, perhaps under pressure from Austin's widow, later claimed she had been duped. The courts agreed. This decision, along with the fact that Emily Dickinson's copyrights belonged to the Dickinson family, kept Mabel Todd from publishing any Dickinson material until 1932, when she published another volume of Dickinson letters.

Though chiefly remembered today for her work on Emily Dickinson, Mabel Todd was known by her contemporaries for her involvement in a great many other activities. Particularly active in civic affairs, she founded the Amherst Historical Society, headed the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, served as the head of the Massachusetts State Federation of Women's Clubs, taught music and painting, and gave numerous recitals.

Mabel Todd also accompanied her husband on astronomical expeditions to Japan (1887, 1896), Tripoli (1900, 1905), the Dutch East Indies (1901), Chile (1907), and Russia (1914). Drawing on her experiences in these exotic foreign lands as well as her knowledge of Emily Dickinson, New England history, and astronomy, she prepared a series of popular lectures. Beginning in the early 1890s Mabel Loomis Todd went on the professional lecture circuit, traveling throughout the country. By all accounts, she was an entertaining speaker.

In addition to these activities, Mabel Todd was a prolific writer. Between 1880 and 1913 she wrote or edited twelve books and hundreds of articles on literature, astronomy, and travel.

In 1913, Mabel Todd suffered a cerebral hemorrhage which left her disabled for several months. Although she remained active in civic affairs after her recovery, her writing and speaking activities declined precipitously. David Peck Todd's erratic behavior at this time created still more problems. When her husband's increasing mental instability finally forced him into early retirement, the family left Amherst and moved to Miami, Florida. In 1922 David Todd's disorders became so severe that he was institutionalized. Mabel Todd, however, continued to lead an active social life in Florida, involving herself in many civic causes. She also devoted a large portion of her time to the preservation of nature and the wilderness.

Mabel Loomis Todd died 14 October 1932, the victim of a second cerebral hemorrhage.

From the guide to the Mabel Loomis Todd papers, 1863-1948, (Manuscripts and Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Strickland, Edward F., 1820-1907. Autograph collection, 1780-1918 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Bingham, Millicent Todd, 1880-1968. Millicent Todd Bingham papers, 1865-1968 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886. Emily Dickinson collection, 1833-1957. Amherst College. Library
referencedIn Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. David Peck Todd papers, 1862-1939 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn White, Sallie Elizabeth Joy. Papers, 1828-1936 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Contracts and correspondence concerning publication of the works of Emily Dickinson, 1890-1935. Houghton Library
referencedIn Martha Dickinson Bianchi papers, 1847-1944 (inclusive), 1923-1937 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Todd, Mabel Loomis, 1856-1932. Autograph letter signed Mabel Loomis Todd to "My dear Mrs. Palmer" February 21, 1897. Wellesley College
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Todd-Bingham memorabilia collection, 1832-1962 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886. Emily Dickinson papers, 1862-1891. Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square
referencedIn Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918, recipient. Letters from various correspondents, American period, 1876-1937 Houghton Library
referencedIn White, Sallie Joy, 1847-1909. Papers, 1828-1936 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Bianchi, Martha Dickinson, 1866-1943. Martha Dickinson Bianchi papers, 1847-1944 (inclusive), 1923-1937 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Pohl, Josephine Pollitt. Papers relating to Emily Dickinson, [ca. 1932 - ca. 1950] Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. Papers, 1862-1939 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Todd, Mabel Loomis, 1856-1932,. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Hampshire, ss., Superior Court : Evidence of Lavinia N. Dickinson, Mabel Loomis Todd, and Timothy Gridley Spaulding, in the case of Lavinia N. Dickinson In Eq. vs. Mabel Loomis Todd et al. : typescript, 1898 February. Houghton Library
creatorOf Todd, Mabel Loomis, 1856-1932. Mabel Loomis Todd letters, 1932. University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University Libraries, UNCG University Libraries
creatorOf Todd, Mabel Loomis, 1856-1932. Mabel Loomis Todd papers, 1863-1948 (inclusive) Yale University Library
creatorOf Mabel Loomis Todd papers, 1863-1948 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Todd family. Todd-Bingham picture collection, 1837-1966 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Todd, Mabel Loomis, 1856-1932. Relating to Emily Dickinson. Volume I / Mabel L. Todd, Amherst Massachusetts. Arizona State University Libraries
creatorOf Todd, Mabel Loomis, 1856-1932. Mabel Loomis Todd papers, 1863-1948 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Emily Dickinson Collection, 1840-2005, 1850-1955 Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn Bingham, Millicent Todd, 1880-1968. Papers, 1865-1968 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Todd-Bingham picture collection, 1837-1966 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Martha Dickinson Bianchi correspondence concerning publication of the poetry of the American poet, Emily Dickinson:, 1881-1943 (inclusive), 1925-1937 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. David Peck Todd papers, 1862-1939 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886. Emily Dickinson papers, 1844-1891 (inclusive), [microform]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Loomis, Nathan, b. 1794. Nathan Loomis papers, 1838-1860. Historic Deerfield Library
referencedIn Strickland, Edward F. Autograph collection, 1780-1918 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966. William Ernest Hocking Papers, 1860-1979 Houghton Library
referencedIn Sewall, Richard Benson. Richard Benson Sewall papers, 1870-1984 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Todd-Bingham memorabilia collection, 1832-1962 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Todd, Mabel Loomis, @d 1856-1932. TLS, 1923. Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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associatedWith Amherst College. corporateBody
associatedWith Amherst Historical Society (Amherst, Mass.) corporateBody
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associatedWith Andrews, Caro Lovejoy. person
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associatedWith Bianchi, Martha Gilbert Dickinson. person
associatedWith Bingham, Millicent Todd, 1880-1968. person
associatedWith Boston Authors Club. corporateBody
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correspondedWith Dickinson family. family
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associatedWith Gorgas, William Crawford, 1854-1920. person
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correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
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associatedWith Lovell, Percival, 1855-1916. person
associatedWith Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925. person
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associatedWith Mitchell, Annie Olivia Tiffany, 1844-1937. person
associatedWith Munroe, Mabel Stearns Noble. person
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associatedWith Saint-Gaudens, Augusta Homer. person
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associatedWith Sallie Joy White, 1852? -1909 person
associatedWith Schiff, Jacob H. (Jacob Henry), 1847-1920. person
associatedWith Sewall, Richard Benson. person
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associatedWith Spaulding, Timothy Gridley person
associatedWith Stearns, Alfred E. (Alfred Ernest), 1871-1949. person
associatedWith Stearns, Arthur French, 1864- person
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correspondedWith Summerell, Jane person
associatedWith Thoreau, Maria. person
associatedWith Thoreau, Maria, 1794-1881. person
associatedWith Todd, David P. (David Peck), 1855-1939. person
associatedWith Todd family family
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associatedWith Twiss, Stephen Prince, 1827- person
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associatedWith Untermeyer, Louis, 1885-1977. person
associatedWith Walker, Francis Amasa, 1840-1897. person
associatedWith Ward, Lydia Avery Coonley, 1845-1924. person
associatedWith White, Sallie Elizabeth Joy. person
associatedWith Whitin, Sarah E. person
associatedWith Whitin, Sarah E. person
associatedWith Wiggin, Kate Douglas Smith, 1856-1923. person
associatedWith Wilder family. family
associatedWith Wilder family. family
associatedWith Wilder family. family
associatedWith Wilder, John Augustus, 1834-1912. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Europe
Florida
United States
Soviet Union.
New England
Florida
Soviet Union
Amherst (Mass.)
Soviet Union
United States
New England
Massachusetts--Amherst
Amherst (Mass.)
Massachusetts--Northampton
Washington, D.C
Japan
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C
Amherst (Mass.)
United States
Florida
New England
Europe
Europe.
Japan
Subject
Literature
Marriage
Middle class
Middle classes
Real property
Scrapbooks
Trials
Upper class
Upper classes
Women
Women
Women
Women
Women artists
Wood-engraving
Wood-engraving
Architecture, Domestic
Adultery
Education
Education
Poets, American
Art, Japanese
Astronomy
Women authors
Childbirth
Child care
Children
Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
Courtship
Drawing
Solar eclipses
Solar eclipses
Editors
Families
Occupation
Authors
Editors
Activity

Person

Birth 1856-11-10

Death 1932-10-14

Americans

English

Information

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