on the pictures for a
of Frost Country
- San Francisco
- Courtesy of Plymouth State College Library
- "I have come by the highway
- And lo it is ended."
Robert Frost was born in San
Francisco, the son of an adventurous New Englander who had gone
west to seek his fortune as a journalist. William Prescott Frost,
Jr. left Lawrence, Mass. against the wishes of his father, an
overseer of a textile mill. He courted and married Isabelle Moodie
at Lewistown Academy in Pennsylvania. Both were highly educated
and qualified teachers. Will Frost went ahead to San Francisco
to prepare for the arrival of his bride. The newlyweds reunited
and shortly gave birth to their first son, Robert Lee Frost,
who was named after the southern general, Robert E. Lee. This
was the first of many Frostian contradictions: the great gray
Yankee poet, the son of New England was born in California. It
was March 26, 1874.
Will Frost died of tuberculosis 11 years later, leaving his wife
and 2 children all but penniless. Mrs. Frost took her husband's
body back to his ancestral home in Lawrence for burial and decided
to stay there to raise her children. She taught school and lived
frugally with her small family. Isabelle Frost was a spiritual
woman, who read to her children from the Bible and Scottish legend.
Rob and his sister Jeanie grew up in Lawrence. The town is built
around a pleasant town square, a short distance from the Merrimack
River which supplied energy to the mills. Robbie attended Lawrence
High School. He started writing poetry in his senior year and
soon realized he wanted to be a poet - a great poet. He married
his high school sweetheart, Elinor White, a quiet girl who also
Rob and Elinor were married in Lawrence in 1895. They too were
both qualified school teachers and along with Mrs. Frost, taught
at a small private school to earn their family living. Robert
suffered exhaustion from teaching and the doctor prescribed fresh
air. The family turned to farming in 1900, following the deaths
of their first child and Frost's mother.
Grandfather Frost financed a small
farm just over the border in Derry, New Hampshire. Rob, Elinor
and a new daughter, Lesley, came to live here. Grandfather feared
Rob's ability to handle a farm, so he sent along an experienced
hired man to help run the place. Elinor loved the country and
Rob worked the farm during the day. He stayed up late at night
writing poetry. By 1906, 4 more children were born, although
little Elinor Bettina died when she was only a day old. Most
of Frost's early poems are connected to Derry. Although he submitted
his poems for publication, little success was realized.
- With growing family obligations,
Frost returned to teaching in 1906. Then, after several years
of further frustration with teaching, farming and failing to
be noticed as a poet, Frost sold the farm and sailed for England
in 1912 with his family. Frost was 38 years old. He remained
in England for 2-1/2 years and published his first two books
of poetry. He received critical acclaim on both sides of the
Atlantic. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the family
thought it best to go home. They sailed for the U. S. in February,
- When Frost arrived in New York,
he found a review of his book in a prominent paper. Now an acclaimed
new poet, Frost wanted a farm in the mountains of New Hampshire,
where he could "live cheap and get Yankier and Yankier."
He settled in the town of Franconia and within a year published
a third book of poetry. Franconia remained his home for 5 years,
although he traveled quite a bit lecturing and teaching.
In 1920, the Frosts moved to Shaftsbury, Vermont. Although he
was now much more a poet-lecturer, Frost always kept a farm and
took it seriously. He had trouble with early frosts in Franconia
and required a warmer climate for his apple trees. Frost lived
in Shaftsbury for about 20 years. His biographer called it "The
Years of Triumph".
- After the untimely deaths of his
wife in 1938 and his son in 1940, Frost left Vermont and lived
near his colleges in Boston and Amherst. However, every summer
Frost attended the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Ripton,
Vermont near Middlebury College. Always a lover of farms and
farm houses, Frost bought the Homer Noble Farm in Ripton for
his summer residence.
- Frost died in Boston in 1963, at
the age of 88, and is buried in Bennington, Vermont where he
had laid to rest his beloved wife and son almost 25 years before.
Thousands of visitors come every year to the churchyard behind
the Old First Congregational Church in Old Bennington to visit
- A great writer once said, "All
literature begins with geography." These places are "Frost
Country": San Francisco, Lawrence, Derry, England, Franconia,
Shaftsbury, Ripton and Bennington. These are the literary time
capsules of a great poet and will enrich your enjoyment of the
- Each of the pictures on the left
is a link to the places Frost lived and wrote about. Take some
time to explore each of these places on our Web site. Even better,
you can go there!
and Poetry" by Carole Thompson
- Copyright The Friends
of Robert Frost, Inc. 2000
- Bibliography for Places
- Lawrence Thompson's 3
volume biography of Robert Frost:The Early Years, The Years
of Triumph and The Later Years.
- Selected Letters of
- The Poetry of Robert