Robert Frost (1874-1963)
v Robert Frost was one of America's greatest poets, focusing his work primarily on the rural life of New England. He was heavily influenced by the earlier generation of Fireside Poets.
v He won four Pulitzer Prizes in his life, and a Congressional Gold Medal in 1960.
v He was also given over 40 honorary degrees from prestigious universities.
v His home state of Vermont created the position Poet Laureate of Vermont, so he could be the first.
v He also read a poem for the inaugeration of president John F Kennedy in 1961.
Although born in San Francisco, California, his father had strong roots in New England. His ancestors first sailed to New Hampshire in 1634. His father, William, was a teacher and later, the editor to the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. He died of tuberculosis when Robert was eleven, leaving his family with just eight dollars, and so his family then moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where his grandfather took care of them. After finishing high school, he attended two months of university before leaving to find work in a factory. But, his true calling was poetry.
At age 20, he sold his first poem for $15 and proposed to the love of his life, Elinor White. They married a year later. They had six children together, although several died tragically. Elinor died of breast cancer in 1938, and Frost never remarried.
At 23, Frost entered Harvard, and studied there three years before leaving due to illness in 1900. This was the same year his mother died of cancer. His grandfather bought him and Elinor a farm, which Frost worked for nine years. Although unsuccessful as a farmer, the poems he wrote early in the mornings would make him famous. He then became a teacher.
In 1912, he and his family moved to England, where he first published his poetry. Ezra Pound wrote good reviews for him. When WWI began, He took his family back to America. As Frost became more popular, he taught at a variety of universities, sold collections of poems, gained awards, got rich, and began buying houses, travelling around the country as the seasons changed.
Frost and his family were plagued by depression. His sister Jeanie was committed in 1920, and his daughter in 1947. He eventually died of prostate cancer, age 89.