In Homo Ludens Johan Huizinga defined play as a free activity outside “ordinary” life, viewed as “not serious”, “connected with no material interest” or possible “profit”, “proceed[ing] within its own proper boundaries” by “fixed rules”, and fostering groups shrouded in “secrecy stress[ing]” their separateness “by disguise or other means” (1949: 13). He audaciously argued that human culture originated in play and to some extent remains play. His analysis illuminates how Dickinson approached aspects of culture like language, religion, war, law, politics, love, education, and art. Nourished by affluent gentry privileges and prejudices, Dickinson’s detached playfulness strikes some as socially irresponsible. Does defending her seriousness validate Huizinga’s claim that “solitary play is productive of culture only in a limited degree” (1949: 47), or should we challenge Huizinga here? Did her privately circulated works have any impact on culture, and if so, how? Strategies of withdrawal, inconclusiveness, and depersonalization ultimately turned her playful poetry into high culture.