- Robert Frost - American's Favourite Poet [Biography]
HumanitiesWeb HumanitiesWeb
Periods Alphabetically Nationality Topics Themes Genres Glossary

Selected Works
Suggested Reading
Other Resources
Related Materials


Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

& etc

All Rights Reserved.

Site last updated
28 October, 2012
Real Time Analytics

Robert Frost

"People who read me seem to be divided into four groups: twenty-five percent like me for the right reasons; twenty-five percent like me for the wrong reasons; twenty-five percent hate me for the wrong reasons; twenty-five percent hate me for the right reasons. It's that last twenty-five percent that worries me."

Robert Frost was born on 26 March, 1874, in San Francisco, where his father, of firm New Hampshire stock, edited a newspaper. The paper was Democratic and Robert's full name is Robert Lee Frost, two facts which are usually taken to indicate the older Frost's attitude to Republican New England. When Robert was eleven, his father died, and he and his schoolteacher mother crossed country and settled with relatives in Massachusetts. His first published poem, on the subject of Cortez in Mexico, appeared in the high school newspaper when he was sixteen, He entered Dartmouth at the age of eighteen, but remained for only about seven weeks. Two years later, in 1895, he married Elinor White, whom he had known in high school. In 1897 he enrolled at Harvard, hoping to prepare for a career in college teaching, but left after two years without a degree. Frost was then twenty-five.

Disappointed with Frost's erratic progress, his grandfather presented him with a farm in Derry, New Hampshire, on the condition that he retain it for ten years. Farming proved less than profitable, and Frost supplemented his income by teaching school, first at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry and then for a year at the New Hampshire State Normal School in Plymouth, where he taught psychology. Throughout this time he was writing poetry, and though he offered it to various periodicals, very little was printed. When his ten-year obligation at the farm ended, Frost sold the property, and shortly after, in September of 1912, he and his family left for England. There he met a number of expatriate American poets, most notably Ezra Pound, but he felt greatest affinity with a group of English poets--Edward Thomas, Lascelles Abercrombie, Wilfred Gibson--who often wrote of rural subjects. Frost's first book of poetry A Boy's Will, consisting largely of what he had written prior to coming to England, was issued in 1913 by an English publisher, who a year later issued Frost's second volume, North of Boston. Frost returned to America in 1915 to discover that an American edition of North of Boston had recently appeared and that it had provoked a highly favourable response. Later that year A Boy's Will also appeared in an American edition.

From this time on, Frost's status as a notable American poet was secure. Though he settled for a time in New Hampshire, and then more permanently in Vermont, he travelled throughout much of the country giving lectures and public readings from his own poetry. His earlier lack of success at Dartmouth and Harvard was more than compensated for by his stints as poet-in-residence at such colleges and universities as Amherst, Harvard, Michigan, and Dartmouth. And he continued to write: in 1916, Mountain Interval; in 1923, New Hampshire; in 1928, West-running Brook; in 1936, A Further Range; in 1942, A Masque of Reason; in 1947, Steeple Bush; A Masque of Mercy; and in 1962, In the Clearing. His public honours have been many; four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry (1924, 1931, 1937, 1943), innumerable honorary degrees (including ones from Oxford and Cambridge), membership in the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1916) and in the American Academy (1930), the Mark Twain Medal (1937) and the Emerson-Thoreau Medal (1958), the office of Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1958-1959), and formal felicitations from the United States Senate on his seventy-fifth birthday and then again on his eighty-fifth birthday. Robert Frost died in Boston on 29 January, 1963.

contributed by Gifford, Katya


Terms Defined

Referenced Works