Robert Frost Biography

Robert Frost Biography

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Robert Lee Frost, born in San Francisco, California on March 26th 1874 was named after Robert E. Lee, the commander for the Confederate armies during the American Civil War. He’s an American poet, who drew his images from t he New England countryside and his language from New England speech. Although his images and voice often seem familiar and old, his observations have an edge of skepticism and irony that makes his work, never as old-fashioned, easy, or carefree as it appears. He was one of America’s leading 20th century poets and a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
     After his father’s death of tuberculosis in 1885, when young Frost was 11, the family left California and settled in Massachusetts. Frost attended high school there, entered Dartmouth College, but remained less than one semester. Returning to Massachusetts, he taught school and worked in a mill and as a newspaper reporter. A year later he married Elinor White, with whom he had shared valedictorian honors at Lawrence High School. From 1897 to 1899, he attended Harvard College as a special student but left without a degree.
In 1912, at the age of 38, he sold the farm and used the proceeds to take his family to England, where he could devote himself entirely to writing. His efforts to establish himself and his work were almost immediately successful. A Boy’s Will was accepted by a London publisher and brought out in 1913, followed a year later by North of Boston. Favorable reviews on both sides of the Atlantic resulted in American publication of the books by Henry Holt and Company, Frost’s primary American publisher, and in the establishing of Frost’s transatlantic reputation. Much of his poetry is concerned with how people interact with their environment, and though he saw the beauty of nature, he also saw its potential dangers. Frost disliked free verse, which was popular with many writers of his time, and instead used traditional metrical and rhythmical schemes. He often wrote in the standard meter of blank verse, but ran sentences over several lines so that the poetic meter plays subtly under the rhythms of natural speech. Frost listened to the speech in his country world north of Boston, and he recorded it. He had what he called “The ruling passion in man … a gregarious instinct to keep together by minding each other’s business.” Frost continued to mind his neighbors’ speech and business in his volume Mountain Interval (1916), which included the poems “The Road Not Taken”, “An Old Man’s Winter Night”, “Birches” and more.

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Frost’s 1923 volume New Hampshire earned him the first of four Pulitzer Prizes that he would win over the next 20 years. His Collected Poems (1930) won him his second Pulitzer Prize. And his next two collections – A Further Range (1936) and A Witness Tree (1942) – also won Pulitzers.
     Frost’s poetic and political conservatism caused him to lose favor with some literary critics, but his reputation as a major poet is secure. He unquestionably succeeded in realizing his life’s ambition: to write “a few poems it will be hard to get rid of.” He died in Boston on January 29th, 1963, at the age of 89.
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