Ben Newton is Emily's father's clerk. He is an avid fan of poetry and supports Emily in her pursuing her poetry career. They develop a friendship over time.
Emily makes plans to go see a solar eclipse with Ben, who is very sick. During the eclipse the two "anti-marry" each other, promising to remain unwed for as long as they live. When his coughing grows worse Emily nurses him at the Dickinson family home and is disturbed when he begins to hallucinate. Ben dies, which greatly upsets Emily.
- On November 4, 2019, it was mentioned how just like the fictional character, the real Ben Newton did work for Emily's father while he was a law student and he did spend a lot of time at the Dickinson house with Emily and her family members. However, it is much more likely that he was just her close friend and mentor than the "non-husband" he promised to be during their "non-proposal" on the show. Moreover, the Emily Dickinson museum cited a few times when Emily mentioned Ben in her writing and it all seemed pretty platonic. She referred to him as her "earliest friend" and "the first of my own friends." She also described him as "my dying tutor." She also wrote that Ben as "an elder brother, loved indeed very much."
- On December 5, 2021, Alena Smith revealed on Twitter that when Emily Dickinson says to Sue Gilbert that she’s never been in love with a man, this in turn means that she was also not in love with Ben Newton.