Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874, in San Francisco, California. Frost lived the first 11 years of his life there, until his journalist father, William Prescott Frost Jr, dies from tuberculosis. Due to his father’s passing, Frost’s mother took Frost, his sister and herself to go live with their grandparents in a small town called Lawrence, which is located in Massachusetts.Frost attended Lawrence High School, where he met his future love and wife, Elinor White, who was his co-valedictorian when they graduated in 1892. After he had finished his high school career, Frost attended the college named “Dartmouth College” for several months, returning home to work at a multitude of unfulfilling jobs.
In the year 1894, he had written his first poem named, “My Butterfly: an Elegy,”. This poem of his was published in The Independent, which was a weekly literary journal based in New York City. This poem made him very successful and popular at a very young age. Because of the success of this poem,Frost proposed to Elinor, who was attending St. Lawrence University. However,she turned him down because she first wanted to finish her education. Frost then decided to go on a trip to Virginia, and when he returned, he proposed again to Elinor once more.
By then, Elinor had graduated from college, and she accepted. They married on December 19, 1895, and had their first child, Elliot, in 1896. At the start of the year 1897, Frost had attended Harvard University but had to drop out after two years due to health concerns.
He returned to Lawrence, Massachusetts to join his wife, who was now pregnant with their second child, daughter Lesley (1899). In 1900, Frost moved with his wife and children to a farm in New Hampshire, a property that Frost’s grandfather had purchased for them. Frost and his wife attempted to make a life on it for the next 12 years. Though it was a glorious time for Frost’s writing, it was a difficult period in his personal life In 1912, Frost and Elinor decided to sell the farm in New Hampshire and move the family to England, because they hoped there would be more publishers willing to take a chance on new poets.
Within just a few months, Frost, who was 38 at the time, found a publisher who would print his first book of poems, A Boy’s Will, followed by North of Boston a year later. It was at this time that Frost met fellow poets Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas, two men who would affect his life in significant ways. Both Pound and Thomas were the first to review his work,revise it and as well as provide significant encouragement which he needed at the time. Frost credited Thomas’s long walks over the English landscape as the inspiration for one of his most famous poems, “The Road Not Taken.” Apparently, Thomas’s indecision and regret regarding what paths to take inspired Frost’s work. The time Frost spent in England was one of the most significant periods in his life, but it was short-lived. Shortly after World War 1 broke out in 1914, Frost and Elinor were forced to return to America.
When Frost arrived back in America, his reputation had preceded him, and he was well-received by the literary world. His new publisher, Henry Holt, who would remain with him for the rest of his life, had purchased all of the copies of North of Boston, and in 1916, he published Frost’s Mountain Interval, a collection of other works that he created while in England, including a tribute to Thomas. Journals such as the Atlantic Monthly, who had turned Frost down when he submitted work earlier, now came calling. Frost famously sent the Atlantic the same poems that they had rejected before his stay in England.In 1915, Frost and Elinor settled down on a farm that they purchased in Franconia, New Hampshire. There, Frost began a long career as a teacher at several colleges, reciting poetry to eager crowds and writing all the while.
He taught at Dartmouth and the University of Michigan at various times, but his most significant association was with Amherst College, where he taught steadily during the period from 1916 to 1938, and where the main library is now named in his honor. For a period of more than 40 years beginning in 1921, Frost also spent almost every summer and fall at Middlebury College, teaching English on its campus in Ripton, Vermont.During his lifetime, Frost would receive over 40 honorary degrees, and in 1924, he was awarded his first of four Pulitzer Prizes, for his book New Hampshire. He would subsequently win Pulitzers for Collected Poems (1931), A Further Range (1937) and A Witness Tree (1943)Amidst these successes, Frost’s family was dealt another tragic blow when Elinor died in 1938. Diagnosed with cancer in 1937 and having undergone surgery, she also had had a long history of heart trouble, to which she ultimately succumbed.
In the same year of his wife’s death, Frost left his teaching position at Amherst College.In the late 1950s, Frost, along with Ernest Hemingway and T. S. Eliot, championed the release of his old acquaintance Ezra Pound, who was being held in a federal mental hospital for treason due to his involvement with fascists in Italy during World War II. Pound was released in 1958, after the indictments were dropped. In 1960, Congress awarded Frost the Congressional Gold Medal.
A year later, Frost was honored when asked to write and recite a poem for President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. His sight now failing, he was not able to see the words in the sunlight and substituted the reading of one of his poems, “The Gift Outright,” which he had committed to memory. On January 29, 1963, Frost died from complications related to prostate surgery. His ashes are interred in a family plot in Bennington, Vermont.