Friendship Poems

Robert Frost Biography

460px-Robert_Frost_NYWTSRobert Lee Frost was a beloved American poet who is still highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. He was a popular, oft-quoted poet, who was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry.

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California, on March 26, 1874 to journalist William Prescott Frost, Jr., and Isabelle Moodie. Frost’s father was a teacher, an editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin and an unsuccessful candidate for city tax collector. After his father’s death in 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.

Despite his later association with rural life, Frost grew up in the city, and published his first poem in his high school’s magazine. He attended Dartmouth College but returned home to teach and work at various jobs including delivering newspapers and working in a factory. He did not enjoy these jobs at all, as he felt that being a poet was his true calling.

In 1894, he sold his first poem, My Butterfly: An Elegy, for fifteen dollars. First was very proud of himself and this accomplishment. He subsequently proposed marriage to Elinor Miriam White, but she demurred, wanting to finish college at St. Lawrence University, before they married. On his return from an excursion to Virginia, Frost asked Elinor again. Having just graduated she agreed, and they were married at Harvard University where he attended liberal arts studies for two years.

He did well at Harvard, but had to leave to support his growing family. For nine years, Robert worked the farm his grandfather had purchased for him, while writing early in the mornings and producing many of the poems that would later become famous. Ultimately farming proved unsuccessful for him, and he returned to education as an English teacher.

In 1912, Frost sailed with his family to Great Britain, where they first lived in Glasgow, before settling in Beaconsfield outside London. His first book of poetry, A Boy’s Will, was published in 1913. It is widely felt that Frost wrote some of his best work while in England.

As World War I began, Frost returned to America in 1915 where he bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire and launched a career writing, teaching and lecturing. Frost also taught English at Amherst College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, notably encouraging his students to account for the sounds of the human voice in their writing.

Robert Frost’s personal life was plagued heavily with grief and loss. His father died of tuberculosis in 1885, when Frost was just 11, leaving the family with just $8. Frost’s mother then died of cancer in 1900. In 1920, Frost had to commit his younger sister, Jeanie, to a mental hospital, where she died nine years later. Mental illness seemed to run 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, is also reported to have experienced bouts of depression.

Elinor and Robert Frost had six children including Elliot, Lesley, Carol, a son, Irma , Marjorie and, finally, daughter Elinor Bettina . 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.

Frost was 86 years old when he spoke and performed a reading of his poetry at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. Just two years later, on January 29, 1963, he died in Boston of complications from prostate surgery. He was buried at the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont. His epitaph reads, “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”


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