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A four-time Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry, American Robert Frost depicted realistic New England life through language and situations familiar to the common man.
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Born on March 26, 1874, Robert Frost spent his first 40 years as an unknown. He exploded on the scene after returning from England at the beginning of WWI. Winner of four Pulitzer Prizes and a special guest at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, Frost became a poetic force and the unofficial "poet laureate" of the United States. He died of complications from prostate surgery on January 29, 1963.
"The ear does it. The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader."
"I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover's quarrel with the world."
Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco, California. He spent the first 12 years of his life there, until his father, William Prescott Frost Jr., died of tuberculosis. Following his father's passing, Frost moved with his mother and sister Jeanie to the town of Lawrence, Massachusetts. They moved in with his grandparents, and Frost attended Lawrence High School, where he met his future love and wife, Elinor White, his co-valedictorian.
After his high school graduation in 1892, Frost attended Dartmouth University for several months, returning home to work a slew of unfulfilling jobs. In 1894, he had his first poem, "My Butterfly: an Elegy," published in The Independent, a weekly literary journal based in New York City. With this success, Frost proposed to Elinor, who was attending St. Lawrence University. She turned him down because she first wanted to finish school. Frost then decided to leave on a trip to Virginia, and when he returned, he proposed again. By then, Elinor had graduated from college, and she accepted. They married on December 19, 1895, and had their first child, Elliot, in 1896.
Beginning in 1897, Frost attended Harvard University, but had to drop out after two years due to health concerns. He returned to Lawrence to join his wife, who was now pregnant with their second child, Lesley, who suffered from mental illness. In 1900, Frost moved with his wife and children to a farm in New Hampshire—property that Frost's grandfather had purchased for them—and they attempted to make a life on it for the next 12 years. Though it was a fruitful time for Frost's writing, it was a difficult period in his personal life.
Elinor gave birth to four more children, Carol (1902); Irma (1903), who later developed mental illness; Marjorie (1905); and Elinor (1907), and two of the Frost children died. Elliot died of cholera in 1900, and Elinor died of complications from birth just weeks after she was born. Additionally, during that time, Frost and Elinor tried several endeavors, including poultry farming, all of which were fairly unsuccessful.
Despite such challenges, it was during this time that Frost acclimated himself to rural life. In fact, he grew to depict it quite well, and began setting many poems in the countryside. While two of these, "The Tuft of Flowers" and "The Trial by Existence," would be published in 1906, he could not find any publishers who were willing to underwrite his other poems.
In 1912, Frost and Elinor decided to sell the farm in New Hampshire and move the family to England, where more publishers would be willing to take a chance on new poets, they believed.
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