Robert Frost Biography

The Young Mr.Frost

Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874, in San Francisco, California. He spent the first 11 years of his life there, until his journalist father, William Prescott Frost Jr., died of tuberculosis. Following his father's passing, Frost moved with his mother and sister, Jeanie, to the town of Lawrence, Massachusetts. They moved in with his grandparents, and 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 high school, Frost attended Dartmouth College for several months, returning home to work a slew of unfulfilling jobs. In 1894, he had his first poem, "My Butterfly: an Elegy," published in The Independent, a weekly literary journal based in New York City. With this success, Frost proposed to Elinor, who was attending St. Lawrence University, but she turned him down because she first wanted to finish school. Frost then decided to leave on a trip to Virginia, and when he returned, he proposed again. By then, Elinor had graduated from college, and she accepted. They married on December 19, 1895, and had their first child, Elliot, in 1896.

Beginning in 1897, Frost attended Harvard University but had to drop out after two years due to health concerns. He returned to Lawrence 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 property that Frost's grandfather had purchased for them and they attempted to make a life on it for the next 12 years. Though it was a fruitful time for Frost's writing, it was a difficult period in his personal life.

The Frost Family Tragedy

The Frost's firstborn son, Elliot, died of cholera in 1900. After his death, Elinor gave birth to four more children: son Carol (1902), who would commit 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 she was born. Additionally, during that time, Frost and Elinor attempted several endeavors, including poultry farming, all of which were fairly unsuccessful.

Despite such challenges, it was during this time that Frost acclimated himself to rural life. In fact, he grew to depict it quite well, and began setting many of his poems in the countryside. But while two of these, "The Tuft of Flowers" and "The Trial by Existence," would be published in 1906, he could not find any publishers who were willing to underwrite his other poems.

Literary Success

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 more than 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).

Famous Works

Fire and Ice

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

NOthing Gold Can Stay

The Rose Family