England

1912 - 1915

 
It was an extraordinary chance Frost took, at the age of 38: to sell his farm, leave his country and take his wife and four children to a foreign land to write poetry. His wife Elinor supported him enthusiastically, saying, "We can live under thatch." He took the money from the sale of the Derry farm, a few possessions and relied on the annuity left by his grandfather to sustain the family's needs. He also took a trunk with all the poems he had written since high school.

 
 Beaconsfield
Courtesy of Plymouth State College Library
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Frost's first publicity photo C. 1913
Courtesy Jones Library, Amherst
 
Edward Thomas, his friend
who inspired The Road Not Taken
Courtesy of Myfanwy Thomas

 
 
 
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 The Frosts rented this little cottage, 20 miles north of London which was connected by train to the city. Shortly after he arrived, he spread his poems out on the living room floor and began arranging them into his first book, which he called A Boy's Will. He found a small publisher to print it - the infamous Mrs. Nutt who never paid him a penny in royalties but disdained the American press for not recognizing the talent of its own countryman. The little cottage where Frost assembled his first book was torn down in 1993 to make room for a new multi-family house.
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In January of 1913, Frost attended the opening of a new poetry bookshop in Kensington and made some important acquaintances. The evening led to an introduction to Ezra Pound, whose calling card read, "At home - sometimes." Frost called on him and explained he had a book of poems about to be published. With that, Pound insisted they obtain a proof and he wrote one of the first reviews of the new book claiming he had just discovered another Amur'kn. "Vurry Amur'k'n with the seeds of grace." Other reviews followed and Mrs. Nutt was soon asking for another book. Much to his surprise, Frost's gamble was paying off. North of Boston was published in early 1914 and got rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Robert Frost was hailed as a "new" American poet. The English loved him and the Americans were taking notice.
Frost made many friends in England, including fellow poet Edward Thomas. The Dymock poets nurtured and encouraged him and Frost might have stayed there were it not for the breakout of World War I. The war destabilized the writers and publishers all over England and soon it was apparent the market was drying up for poets. The Frosts moved several times during their final months and Elinor did finally get her wish to live under thatch at a house called "The Gallows." Robert told his family, "the poems have gone home and I guess we should too." The whole family was homesick for New England and they sailed for New York in February, 1915.
 
Frost's friends, Edward Thomas joined the war and was killed in France in 1917.
 
Today, The Dymock Poets Archive and Study Centre established by The Friends of Dymock Poets and Cheltenham & Gloucester College, promotes interest in the work of the Dymock poets.
 
"Home," he mocked gently...
"I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve."