Robert Frost, born Robert Lee Frost, is a poet celebrated for his depictions of everyday situations and ordinary speech. His depictions of rural New England life made his literary works very relatable (and popular) to the common man.
Robert Frost Facts
1. He graduated co-valedictorian with his high school sweetheart.
Robert Frost attended high school in Lawrence, Massachusetts together with his sister Jeanie. At a young age, he showed much promise so much so that he graduated valedictorian alongside Elinor White, who was his high school sweetheart.
They parted ways during college – Frost went to Dartmouth College while Elinor opted for St. Lawrence University. During his short-lived stay in Dartmouth, he managed to print his “My Butterfly: An Elegy” in the weekly literary magazine “The Independent.”
After leaving Dartmouth, Robert Frost married Elinor in 1895. He supported his brood of four children through farming and some teaching. An interesting fact about Robert Frost is that he was able to resume his collegiate education at Harvard University – but had to drop out eventually due to health reasons.
2. Frost’s life in Derry, New Hampshire inspired some of his works.
In 1900, Robert Frost and his family relocated to a farm in Derry, New Hampshire. He taught and became an amateur botanist in Derry, all the while writing poems when he could. It was during his time here that he developed the New England literary style that made him famous.
3. Robert Frost moved to England in search of better horizons.
At 40 years old, Frost has managed to print only one work – and that was during his time at Dartmouth. Frustrated by this, he decided to sell his farm in Derry to move to England, where publishers are said to be more welcoming to new poets, an interesting fact about Robert Frost.
With his unpublished verses in tow, Frost sailed to Great Britain together with his family. His hunch was right – he managed to print his book “A Boy’s Will” by 1913. This compendium contains several popular pieces, such as “Mowing,” “The Tuft of Flowers,” and “Storm Fear.”
The following year, he printed another collection entitled “North of Boston.” It included some of Frost’s more famous poems, such as “The Death of the Hired Man,” “Mending Wall,” and “Home Burial.”
4. His friendship with Edward Thomas inspired him to write “The Road Not Taken.”
“The Road Not Taken,” undoubtedly one of Frost’s more popular verses, was published in his 1916 book “Mountain Interval.” Though most argue that it is about following one’s path, some critics say it is about the irony of doing so.
No matter what meaning he intended it to be, one thing is for sure: the poem was inspired by his and Thomas’ frequent walks in the English countryside. According to some experts, “The Road Not Taken” became the driving force behind Thomas’ enlistment during the First World War. He eventually died in the Battle of Arras.
5. Frost’s fame in England let to his meteoric rise in the United States.
Ironically, Frost had to go to England to be recognized in the US. His popularity managed to travel across the Atlantic and back to his homeland, many thanks to the efforts of poet Amy Lowell. While in England, she chanced upon Frost’s book and was thoroughly impressed by it. Upon her return to the US, she wrote her review and looked for publishers who would print Robert Frost’s work.
Frost and his family sailed back to the US at the outbreak of the First World War, oblivious to the fact that he was starting to become famous, an interesting Robert Frost fact. After Lowell’s write-up about his work was printed in “The New Republic,” Henry Holt published the “North of Boston,” in the US, with “A Boy’s Will” following suit. The Atlantic, which previously rejected his prior entries, were now clamoring for his poems. By this time, Frost was now being celebrated in his homeland.
6. Robert Frost taught part-time to supplement his income from writing.
Though he earned a handsome sum of money for his books, it was not enough to support his big brood. To make ends meet, he taught part-time at Amherst College and the University of Michigan at the start. It was also during this time when he released his third book entitled “Mountain Interval.”
7. Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes.
A true literary genius, Frost received the prestigious Pulitzer Prize four times – he remains to be the only person who has done so. He received his first one in 1923 for the improved version of “New Hampshire.” He won another one seven years later for his book “Collected Poems.” He gained his third and fourth Pulitzers for “A Further Range” and “A Witness Tree” respectively.
His other works, though devoid of Pulitzers, were just as notable. They include “West-Running Brook,” “Steeple Bush,” and “In the Clearing.”
8. He received 40 honorary degrees and several other distinctions.
Ironically, even if Frost did not finish his college education, he ended up receiving numerous honorary degrees from the finest of institutions, an interesting Robert Frost fact. He was able to receive such distinctions from Oxford, Cambridge, Bates, Amherst, Harvard, and Dartmouth (where he received two degrees).
He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature 31 times. In 1960, he was granted the Congressional Gold Medal, which is one of the highest medals an American civilian can ever receive.
9. Robert Frost served as poet-in-residence for notable institutions.
Frost was the poet-in-residence for his almost-alma maters, namely Harvard University from 1939 to 1943, and Dartmouth College from 1943 to 1949. He served the same post in Amherst College, where he taught, from 1949 to 1963. He was eventually named poet laureate of Vermont in 1961.
10. Frost spoke during the 1961 inauguration of the late John F. Kennedy.
For his celebrated status, Robert Frost landed a stint during the inauguration of then-President John F. Kennedy. His eyesight was failing him then, so he decided to recite the poem “The Gift Outright,” a poem that he has memorized well.
Despite the rejections during his younger years, Frost continued to write. Like wine, the older he got, the better his works turned out. His perseverance is proof that all things are possible, no matter how old you might be.
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