Biography Robert Frost throws the light on various aspects of his life and how he became a Pulitzer prize-winning poet. He was a great American poet who demonstrated the true life of New England using common man situations and languages. At John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration, he bagged the Pulitzer Prizes for his work. His famous poems include Mending Wall, Birches, Fire and Ice, Out Out, and several others. The Road Not Taken is a wonderful poem that is often read at graduation ceremonies across the US. To know more about the Biography of Robert Frost, read this post until the end.
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About Robert Frost: An Overview
Robert Frost was a poet from the United States who won four Pulitzer Prizes. Fire and Ice, Out Out, Mending Wall, Birches, Nothing Gold Will Last, and Home Burial are some of his most well-known works. The Road Not Taken, a poem he wrote in 1916, is often read at graduation ceremonies throughout the United States.
Frost became a literary power and the unofficial “poet laureate” of the United States as a special guest at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Frost went unnoticed for the first 40 years of his life. After returning from England at the start of World War I, he burst onto the scene. On January 29, 1963, he died as a result of complications from prostate surgery.
Early Years Of His Life
Frost was born in San Francisco, California, on March 26, 1874. His father, William Prescott Frost Jr., was a journalist. He died of tuberculosis when Frost was 11 years old, and he spent the first 11 years of his life there. Frost moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, with his mother and sister, Jeanie, after his father died. He attended Lawrence High School after moving in with his grandparents.
Frost attended Dartmouth College for a few months after high school, then returned home to work a series of unfulfilling jobs. Frost enrolled at Harvard University in 1897 but had to drop out after two years due to health issues. To be with his wife, he returned to Lawrence. To know more about his early life, you may read his biography, Robert Frost.
In 1900, Frost shifted with his wife and children to a farm in New Hampshire — a property that Frost’s grandfather had purchased for them—and they attempted to make a living on it for the next 12 years. Frost’s writing flourished during this period, but it was also a trying time in his personal life, as two of his young children died. Frost and Elinor tried a number of things during that period, including poultry farming, but they all failed miserably.
Despite the difficulties, it was during this period that Frost became accustomed to rural life. In reality, he became very adept at depicting it and began to set many of his poems in the countryside.
Spouse Of Robert Frost
Frost met Elinor White, his future wife when they were both students at Lawrence High School. When they graduated in 1892, she was his co-valedictorian. Frost proposed to White, who was a student at St. Lawrence University, in 1894, but she declined because she needed to complete her studies first. Frost then went on a holiday to Virginia, and when he returned, he proposed to her once more. White had graduated from college by that time, and she accepted. On December 19, 1895, they tied the knot.
White passed away in 1938. She was diagnosed with cancer in 1937 and underwent surgery, but she also had a long history of heart problems, which she eventually succumbed to.
The Frost couple had six children together. White gave birth to her first child Elliot in 1896. Daughter Lesley was born in 1899. In 1900, Elliot died of cholera. Elinor had four more children after his death: Carol (1902), who committed suicide in 1940; Irma (1903), who later developed mental illness; Marjorie (1905), who died in her late 20s after giving birth; and Elinor (1907), who died just weeks after her birth.
Poetry In Starting Days
Frost’s first poem, “My Butterfly: an Elegy,” was published in The Independent, a New York City-based weekly literary journal, in 1894. In 1906, two poems were published: “The Tuft of Flowers” and “The Trial by Life.” He was unable to find any publishers willing to back his other poems.
Frost and Elinor agreed to sell their farm in New Hampshire and relocate to England in 1912, hoping to find more publishers willing to take a chance on new poets. He, now 38, found a publisher and had his first book of poetry, A Boy’s Will, published within a few months, followed by North of Boston a year later.
Frost met fellow poets Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas at this time, two men who would have a profound impact on his life. Pound and Thomas were the first to praise his work and provide considerable support. Frost attributed one of his most popular poems, “The Road Not Taken,” to Thomas’s long walks through the English countryside.
Frost’s work was apparently influenced by Thomas’s indecision and remorse about which directions to take. Frost’s stay in England was one of the most formative times of his life, but it was brief. Frost and Elinor were forced to return to America shortly after World War I broke out in August 1914.
Public Recognition for Frost’s Poetry
Frost’s fame followed him when he returned to America, and he was well-received by the literary community. All of the copies of North of Boston had been bought by his new editor, Henry Holt, who would remain with him for the rest of his life. Frost’s Mountain Interval, a compilation of other works he produced while in England, including a tribute to Thomas, was published in 1916.
Journals like The Atlantic Monthly, which had previously rejected Frost’s work, now came calling. Before his stay in England, Frost famously sent the Atlantic the same poetry that they had rejected.
Frost and Elinor bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, in 1915 and settled down. Frost started a long career as a college professor there, reciting poetry to adoring audiences while still teaching.
He taught at Dartmouth and the University of Michigan at different times, but his most important connection was with Amherst College, where he taught continuously from 1916 until his wife’s death in 1938. In his honor, the main library has been renamed.
Beginning in 1921, Frost spent nearly every summer and fell at Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont, where he taught English. Frost, along with T. S. Eliot, and Ernest Hemingway, wrote in the late 1950s. S. Eliot advocated for the release of his old friend Ezra Pound, who was being held in a federal psychiatric institution for treason for his association with fascists in Italy during WWII. The pound was released in 1958 after the indictments were dropped. You may get to know more about his poetic journey in the biography Robert Frost.
Some of Frost’s most well-known poems include:
- The Road Not Taken
- Fire and Ice
- The Death of the Hired Man
- Out Out
- Acquainted with the Night
Pulitzer Prizes and Other Awards
Frost received over 40 honorary degrees during his lifetime. Frost won his first of four Pulitzer Prizes for his book New Hampshire in 1924. Collected Poems (1931), A Further Range (1937), and A Witness Tree (1938) all won Pulitzer Prizes (1943).
In 1960, Congress awarded Frost the Congressional Gold Medal; Robert Frost read one of his poems at the Inaugural Ceremony for President John F. Kennedy.
President John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration
Frost was asked to compose and recite a poem for President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961 at the age of 86. He couldn’t see the words in the sunshine because his eyesight was fading, so he read one of his poems, “The Gift Outright,” which he had memorized. It is one of the most important events of his life you may find in the biography Robert Frost.
Soviet Union Tour
Frost went on a goodwill tour to the Soviet Union in 1962. However, he unwittingly undid many of the good intentions of his visit when he misrepresented a remark made by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev following their meeting.
Frost died on January 29, 1963, as a result of complications from prostate surgery. Lesley and Irma, two of his children, survived him. In Bennington, Vermont, his ashes are interred in a family cemetery.
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