Robert Frost Biography

Robert Frost
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Quick Facts

Birthday: March 26, 1874

Died At Age: 88

Sun Sign: Aries

Also Known As: Robert Lee Frost

Born Country: United States

Born in: San Francisco, California, United States

Famous as: Poet

Quotes By Robert Frost Poets

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Elinor Miriam White, Elinor Frost (m. 1895–1938)

father: William Prescott Frost Jr.

mother: Isabelle Moodie

siblings: Jeanie

children: Carol Frost, Elinor Bettina Frost, Elliot Frost, Irma Frost, Lesley Frost Ballantine, Marjorie Frost

Died on: January 29, 1963

place of death: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Ancestry: British Americans

Cause of Death: Complications Following Prostate Surgery

U.S. State: California

City: San Francisco, California

epitaphs: I had a lover's quarrel with the world

More Facts

education: Harvard University, Dartmouth College

awards: 1924 - Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
1960 - Congressional Gold Medal
- Bollingen Prize

- Robert Frost Medal
- American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Poetry
- United States Poet Laureate

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Who was Robert Frost?

Robert Lee Frost was an American poet best known for his vivid poems describing rural life in England. He had an admirable command of colloquial speech and wrote descriptive poems about ordinary people going about their lives with a philosophical undertone. He was a much-celebrated literary figure with several awards and honors to his name. He is the only poet so far to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. The son of a journalist, he started writing poems as a school student. As a young man, he worked in several jobs but found no satisfaction. He realized poetry was his true calling and became a full-time poet. It did not take him long to establish himself successfully in his literary career. Later on, he also took up teaching. He was considered a brilliant teacher and held positions at several prestigious institutions, including Amherst College and the University of Michigan. As a poet, he was much appreciated for the honesty in his tone and his skills at depicting rural life and the lives of ordinary people in a clear, realistic manner. He received the Congressional Gold Medal and the Edward MacDowell Medal for his contribution to the arts.

Childhood & Early Life

Robert Lee Frost was born on March 26, 1874, in San Francisco, California, US, to William Prescott Frost, Jr. and his wife, Isabelle Moodie. His father, a journalist, was the descendant of an English immigrant, while his mother was a Scottish immigrant. Robert had a younger sister, Jeanie.

His father died of tuberculosis when Robert was 11 years old. His mother took the two children to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where they were taken in by Robert’s paternal grandparents. His mother earned a living by teaching in different schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Robert was a good student and excelled in his studies. He also started writing poetry as a schoolboy. He graduated from high school in 1892 as a top student in his class. He shared valedictorian honors with Elinor White, a girl he was in love with.

He joined Dartmouth College but attended classes for only a couple of months during which he was accepted into the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. 

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Career

After quitting college, Robert Frost began a teaching career, helping his mother at work. He also took up a series of odd jobs like delivering newspapers and working in a carbon arc lamps factory.

He wasn’t satisfied with any of the jobs he dabbled in and realized that poetry was his true calling. His poem My Butterfly. An Elegy was published in the November 8, 1894, edition of the New York Independent. He was paid $15 for it.

From 1897 to 1899, Robert Frost attended Harvard University but didn’t stay to complete his degree; he had to quit owing to health issues. His grandfather had purchased a farm for him and his wife in Derry, New Hampshire. The couple moved there and Frost worked on the farm for several years while continuing to write poetry.

He wasn’t successful at farming. With a growing family to feed, he returned to the field of education and took up a position as an English teacher at New Hampshire's Pinkerton Academy in 1906. He worked there for five years.

He moved to Great Britain with his family in 1912. His first book of poetry, A Boy’s Will, was published in 1913 and the next volume, North of Boston, was out the following year.

The poems he wrote in England were deeply influenced by the rural life of ordinary folks. His works also had a philosophical undertone and talked about the harsh realities of village life. By 1915, he had managed to become a popular poet with his poignant literary works.

Robert Frost returned to America in 1915 when World War I was going on. He was already a popular poet by then. He purchased a farm in New Hampshire and built a successful career composing poetry and teaching. For several years, he taught English at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

He gained much fame and success as a poet in the ensuing years. His best-known books released in the following decades were New Hampshire (1923), A Further Range (1936), Steeple Bush (1947), and In the Clearing (1962). He also served as a consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress from 1958 to 1959.

Besides being an exceptional poet, Robert Frost was also phenomenal as a teacher. For four decades, starting from the early 1920s, he spent numerous summers and falls teaching at the Bread Loaf School of English of Middlebury College.

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He took up a fellowship teaching post at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1921. He stayed there until 1927 and returned to Amherst.

He owned several properties, including a plot in South Miami, Florida, and a house on Brewster Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Major Works

Robert Frost’s volume of poetry New Hampshire is counted amongst his most important works. The book contained poems, such as Nothing Gold Can Stay, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, and Fire and Ice, and won the 1924 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

His poem collection A Further Range is another one of his major works that earned a Pulitzer Prize. It was dedicated to his wife and divided into six parts. It contained poems including The Gold Hesperidee, In Time of Cloudburst, A Roadside Stand, and Departmental.

Family & Personal Life

Robert Frost fell in love with a girl named Elinor Miriam White while still in school. She was an ambitious young woman who inspired many of his poems.

He was determined to marry her even though she didn’t accept the first time he proposed. She accepted when he proposed a second time, and they were married on December 19, 1895.

The couple had six children, out of who two died very young. While four of his children lived to adulthood, two of them predeceased their father. Elinor, who Frost loved very deeply, developed breast cancer and died in 1938. 

Robert Frost lived a long life and died on January 29, 1963, due to complications from prostate surgery. He was 88. 

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