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Biography of Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874 to Isabelle Moodie, a Scottish schoolteacher, and William Prescott Frost, Jr., a journalist, local politician and ancestor of Devonshire Frost who had sailed to New Hampshire in 1634.

Frost's family lived in California until his father had died when he was just eleven. He moved with his mother and sister to Lawrence, Massachusetts to live with his paternal grandfather.

In 1892, Frost graduated from high school and attended Dartmouth College and was a member of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. While attending college, Frost's first poem, "My Butterfly: An Elegy", was published in the New York Independent, which earned him $15, and had five poems published privately in 1894.

In 1895, Frost married a former schoolmate, Elinor White; they had six children. Frost then became a teacher and continued publishing his poems in magazines to support his family. From 1897 to 1899, Frost attended Harvard, but failed to receive a degree. The couple moved to Derry, New Hampshire, where Frost worked as a cobbler, farmer and teacher at Pinkerton Academy and a state normal school in Plymouth.

As the couple grew tired of farm life, they needed a change. Robert wanted to move to Vancouver and Elinor England, so England it was. In 1912 the couple sold their farm and moved to the Gloucestershire village of Dymock, where Robert became a full-time poet. The next year, A Boy's Will was published. The book received international fame and contains many of Frost's best-known poems: Mending Wall, The Death of the Hired Man, Home Burial, After Apple-Picking and The Wood-Pile. While in England, Frost made notable contacts with fellow poets as Ezra Pound (who gave Frost his first favorable review by an American), T.E. Hulme and Edward Thomas.

Frost returned to America in 1915 and bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire to farther his career in writing, teaching and lecturing. From 1916 to 1938, Frost worked as an English professor at Amherst College. He encouraged his students to bring the sound of man to their writings. Also in 1916, Frost was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and published his third collection of verse, Moutain Interval.

In 1920, Frost purchased a farm in South Shaftsbur, Vermont. Robert's wife died in 1938, followed by four of his children. He suffered from long boughts of depression and continual self-doubt. After the death of his wife, he employed Kay Morrison, who he became strongly attracted to. One of his finest love poems, A Witness Tree, was composed for her.

During the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, Frost recited one of his poems, The Gift Outright. Robert also represented the United States on several other official missions. He became known for his poems that interplay voices, such as The Death of the Hired Man, and received numerous literary and academic honors.

Robert Lee Frost died on January 29, 1963 and is buried in the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont.

Poems by Robert Frost