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At first glance, the cultural evidence that travel makes us more open, creative and curious seems irrefutable. From the Beat Generation’s cross-country benders to Mark Twain’s assertion that travel is “fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” we assume without a second thought that seeing new places, people and cultures changes us for the better in ways that long outlast unflattering passport photos.

And yet for every adventure-hungry artist, there’s a secluded genius who conjures a masterpiece using nothing more than their own limited experience and boundless imagination. Emily Brontë reinvented the Victorian novel and evoked vicious, vividly drawn relationships even though she lived most of her life in her picturesque family home. Likewise, Emily Dickinson—that other famously reclusive Emily—produced almost 1, 800 poems over her lifetime despite leading such an isolated existence that she often spoke to visitors through her door

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This story is from Kinfolk Issue Twenty

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