Photo: Walter Albertin, World Telegram staff photographer / Public domain
Born: March 26, 1874
Born Place: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: January 29, 1963
Death Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Poems: The Road Not Taken, etc
Spouse: Elinor Miriam White (m. 1895; died 1938)
Occupation: Poet, playwright
Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes.
Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime and is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America’s rare “public literary figures, almost an artistic institution.” He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named poet laureate of Vermont.
Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California, to journalist William Prescott Frost, Jr., and Isabelle Moodie. His mother was a Scottish immigrant, and his father descended from Nicholas Frost of Tiverton, Devon, England, who had sailed to New Hampshire in 1634 on the Wolfrana.
Frost was a descendant of Samuel Appleton, one of the early settlers of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and Rev. George Phillips, one of the early settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts.
Frost’s father was a teacher and later an editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin (which later merged with The San Francisco Examiner), and an unsuccessful candidate for city tax collector. After his death on May 5, 1885, the family moved across the country to Lawrence, Massachusetts, under the patronage of Robert’s grandfather William Frost, Sr., who was an overseer at a New England mill. Frost graduated from Lawrence High School in 1892. Frost’s mother joined the Swedenborgian church and had him baptized in it, but he left it as an adult.
Although known for his later association with rural life, Frost grew up in the city, and he published his first poem in his high school’s magazine. He attended Dartmouth College for two months, long enough to be accepted into the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. Frost returned home to teach and to work at various jobs, including helping his mother teach her class of unruly boys, delivering newspapers, and working in a factory maintaining carbon arc lamps. He did not enjoy these jobs, feeling his true calling was poetry.
Robert Frost’s personal life was plagued by grief and loss. In 1885 when he was 11, his father died of tuberculosis, leaving the family with just eight dollars. Frost’s mother died of cancer in 1900. In 1920, he had to commit his younger sister Jeanie to a mental hospital, where she died nine years later. Mental illness apparently ran in Frost’s family, as both he and his mother suffered from depression, and his daughter Irma was committed to a mental hospital in 1947. Frost’s wife, Elinor, also experienced bouts of depression.
Elinor and Robert Frost had six children: son Elliot (1896–1900, died of cholera); daughter Lesley Frost Ballantine (1899–1983); son Carol (1902–1940, committed suicide); daughter Irma (1903–1967); daughter Marjorie (1905–1934, died as a result of puerperal fever after childbirth); and daughter Elinor Bettina (died just one day after her birth in 1907). Only Lesley and Irma outlived their father. Frost’s wife, who had heart problems throughout her life, developed breast cancer in 1937, and died of heart failure in 1938.
- 1924 for New Hampshire: A Poem With Notes and Grace Notes
- 1931 for Collected Poems
- 1937 for A Further Range
- 1943 for A Witness Tree
- A Boy’s Will (David Nutt 1913; Holt, 1915)
- North of Boston (David Nutt, 1914; Holt, 1914)
- “After Apple-Picking”
- “The Death of the Hired Man”
- “Mending Wall”
- Mountain Interval (Holt, 1916)
- “Out, Out”
- “The Oven Bird”
- “The Road Not Taken”
- Selected Poems (Holt, 1923)
- Includes poems from first three volumes and the poem The Runaway
- New Hampshire (Holt, 1923; Grant Richards, 1924)
- “Fire and Ice”
- “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
- “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
- Several Short Poems (Holt, 1924)
- Selected Poems (Holt, 1928)
- West-Running Brook (Holt, 1928? 1929)
- “Acquainted with the Night”
- The Lovely Shall Be Choosers, The Poetry Quartos, printed and illustrated by Paul Johnston (Random House, 1929)
- Collected Poems of Robert Frost (Holt, 1930; Longmans, Green, 1930)
- The Lone Striker (Knopf, 1933)
- Selected Poems: Third Edition (Holt, 1934)
- Three Poems (Baker Library, Dartmouth College, 1935)
- The Gold Hesperidee (Bibliophile Press, 1935)
- From Snow to Snow (Holt, 1936)
- A Further Range (Holt, 1936; Cape, 1937)
- Collected Poems of Robert Frost (Holt, 1939; Longmans, Green, 1939)
- A Witness Tree (Holt, 1942; Cape, 1943)
- “The Gift Outright”
- “A Question”
- “The Silken Tent”
- Come In, and Other Poems (Holt, 1943)
- Steeple Bush (Holt, 1947)
- Complete Poems of Robert Frost, 1949 (Holt, 1949; Cape, 1951)
- Hard Not To Be King (House of Books, 1951)
- Aforesaid (Holt, 1954)
- A Remembrance Collection of New Poems (Holt, 1959)
- You Come Too (Holt, 1959; Bodley Head, 1964)
- In the Clearing (Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1962)
- The Poetry of Robert Frost (Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1969)
- A Way Out: A One Act Play (Harbor Press, 1929).
- The Cow’s in the Corn: A One Act Irish Play in Rhyme (Slide Mountain Press, 1929).
- A Masque of Reason (Holt, 1945).
- A Masque of Mercy (Holt, 1947).
- The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963; Cape, 1964).
- Robert Frost and John Bartlett: The Record of a Friendship, by Margaret Bartlett Anderson (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963).
- Selected Letters of Robert Frost (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1964).
- Interviews with Robert Frost (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1966; Cape, 1967).
- Family Letters of Robert and Elinor Frost (State University of New York Press, 1972).
- Robert Frost and Sidney Cox: Forty Years of Friendship (University Press of New England, 1981).
- The Notebooks of Robert Frost, edited by Robert Faggen (Harvard University Press, January 2007).
- Frost, Robert (February 2014). Sheehy, Donald; Richardson, Mark; Faggen, Robert (eds.). The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 1, 1886–1920. Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0674057609. (Harvard University Press imprint; 811 pages; first volume, of five, of the scholarly edition of the poet’s correspondence, including many previously unpublished letters.)
- Frost, Robert (September 2016). Sheehy, Donald; Richardson, Mark; Hass, Robert Bernard; Atmore, Henry (eds.). The Letters of Robert Frost, Volume 2, 1920–1928. Belknap Press. ISBN 978-0674726642. (Harvard University Press imprint; 848 pages; second volume of the series.)
- Collected Poems, Prose and Plays (Richard Poirier, ed.) (Library of America, 1995) ISBN 978-1-883011-06-2.
- Robert Frost Reads His Poetry, Caedmon Records, 1957, TC1060