Fellow Consults on new Dickinson Film

Wild Nights With Emily is a new feature film about the secret life of Emily Dickinson. The film, which debuted last year at SXSW and has made the rounds at film festivals, is based largely on the scholarly work of Martha Nell Smith WS ‘84.

Dr. Smith is Distinguished Scholar-Teacher, Professor of English, and Founding Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland. The movie, directed by Madeleine Olnek, draws on Dr. Smith’s books Open Me Carefully: Emily Dickinson’s Intimate Letters to Susan Dickinson and Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson, as well as on her archival work on Dickinson. Dr. Smith served as a consultant on the film.

Wild Nights With Emily “is the most profound, thoroughly researches, compelling biopic of America’s iconic poet Emily Dickenson,” says Dr. Smith.

The movie stars Molly Shannon as Emily. In a Q&A at the Provincetown Film Festival last June, Shannon “commended Olnek’s take on Emily Dickinson, which portrays the poet as a lively woman in love, as opposed to a shy spinster. Shannon also have credit to Martha Nell Smith, a Dickinson expert, who consulted on the film.”

“Dickinson is portrayed in a way that brings life to a writer who wrote such lively poetry,” said online review site Film School Rejects. “Period pieces are no easy feat, but director Madeleine Olnek does it excellently…so hilarious…Dickinson fan or not, the premise is interesting and the history fascinating.”

The film received honors and awards at the Champs-Elysees Film Festival, the Long Beach LGBTQ Film Festival, Atlanta LGBT Film Festival, and the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival. Wild Nights With Emily will be released theatrically early this year.


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