Literary Amherst

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tune without the words – and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

The Writing College

Amherst College is one of the world’s premier writing colleges, with an enviable literary legacy. Throughout our 200-year history, our faculty and alumni have included influential and award-winning authors, including Robert Frost, Richard Wilbur ’42, James Merrill ’47, Sonia Sanchez, Alexander Chee, David Foster Wallace ’85, Dan Brown ’86, Rafael Campo ’87, Debby Applegate ’89, Kirun Kapur ’97, Min Jin Lee, Lauren Groff ’01 and many others.

Today, we enjoy a thriving literary life on campus with talented faculty, numerous literary events and prominent publications. Our faculty teach creative writing in small, intensive classes. Our events include an annual literary festival and a visiting writers series, which bring to campus distinguished authors for readings, conversations and master classes. The College’s Emily Dickinson Museum offers programming celebrating the poet’s work and life, while our Folger Shakespeare Library remains the world’s preeminent institution for the study of Shakespeare. The College’s literary journal, The Common, publishes an international array of established and emerging writers.


Creative Writing at Amherst College

Judith Frank talks about what it takes to succeed as a writer and touches on what students can expect from the creative writing program at Amherst College.

headshots of visiting writers

The Creative Writing Center: Visiting Writers

The Creative Writing Center organizes the Visiting Writers Series, which brings influential authors of fiction and poetry to the College for readings and book signings. 

Amherst College LitFest

LitFest

Amherst’s annual festival celebrates the College’s literary life by inviting distinguished authors and editors to discuss the pleasures and challenges of verbal expression — from fiction and nonfiction to poetry and spoken-word performance.

THE COMMON Literary Magazine

The Common Issue 12

A Global, Award-Winning Publication

The Common publishes place-based literature and art from around the world in print and digital editions, and mentors 12 Amherst students each year as part of its Literary Publishing Internship Program.

The Common

The Emily Dickinson Connection

Amherst College is home to the largest and most varied holdings related to poet Emily Dickinson anywhere in the world. The College’s Archives and Special Collections and the Emily Dickinson Museum contain thousands of her manuscripts, letters, and personal objects. The holdings also highlight the faculty, students, and other members of the College community who played roles in Dickinson’s social and intellectual development.

The College also maintains the Emily Dickinson Museum, comprising the poet’s home, where she wrote most of her poetry, and her brother’s house next door. The Museum hosts guided tours and special events, including the annual Amherst Poetry Festival, in which all 1,789 of Emily Dickinson’s poems are read. 

Archives and Special Collections

hands holding small books

A Trove of Rare Books and More

Since 1851, Archives and Special Collections has amassed the physical history of Amherst College, including major collections of works by Emily Dickinson and Richard Wilbur ’42, and extensive holdings of works by alumni and other poets and writers.

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Folger Shakespeare Library

Shakespeare First Folio

The World’s Preeminent Institution for the Study of Shakespeare

Amherst College administers the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., founded in 1930 by Amherst alumnus Henry Clay Folger, class of 1879.

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