This valuable resource for Dickinson scholars is based on the Thomas H. Johnson three-volume edition of the letters (published in 1958 and 1965) as well as the 1998 one-volume paperback edition. The primary importance of the concordance pertains to the poetic quality of the letters themselves. As editor of both the poems and the letters, T.H. Johnson recognizes this link when he writes: "the letters both in style and rhythm begin to take on qualities that are so nearly the quality of her poems as on occasion to leave the reader in doubt where the letter leaves off and the poem begins."
The similarities between the letters and the poems makes the typical concordance search for the poet's thematically significant words and biographical references particularly relevant. Tracing Dickinson's thoughts through her correspondence complements the ideas within her poetry and thus provides a more comprehensive insight into the poet's personal and artistic development. The concordance will facilitate an understanding of words or concepts that may be obscure in the poetry by itself. Research into Dickinson's problematic style, characterized by gaps, disjunctions, and ellipses, will be greatly enhanced.
By listing Dickinson's words together with their contexts and frequencies, the concordance provides the scholar with the ability to answer confidently questions of a statistical or stylistic nature. Finally, one of the most important functions of this concordance is to provide scholar, student, and general reader alike with endless opportunities to make exciting and unexpected discoveries by way of browsing.