Robert Frost is an American poet and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner who is renowned for poems such as “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Despite his world-renowned status, the exact whereabouts of his residence remain a mystery.
Most of Frost’s life was spent in New England, primarily in the Northeastern US. His lifelong fondness for the area likely encouraged the movement of the poem “New Hampshire” to the coverage of his 1923 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, Frost and his family resided in a variety of places: Lawrence, Massachusetts; Gloucester; and Franconia, New Hampshire.
He eventually settled in Derry, New Hampshire in 1920, where he lived and wrote for the remaining 10 years and established the Frost Place, a house of poets in his beloved state of New Hampshire. A replica of Frost’s birthplace exists in Derry today, giving the public a glimpse of the poet’s early years.
Strangely, it’s Frost’s location in the middle of his life that remains largely unknown. After leaving Derry in 1930, Frost and family made a pilgrimage to London, eventually settling outside of Nice, France and spending the majority of his next decade overseas. The exact living quarters of the early and mid Frost years remain unknown.
In 1940, the Frost family returned to the United States, settling in South Shaftsbury, Vermont.At the end of his life the Frost family lived in several locations, notably in Amherst, Massachusetts, and making a home in Bennington, Vermont from 1940 until his death in 1963.
The life story of Robert Frost is one of move and migration tying him to various states and countries around the world. However, the exact places he called home during his life remain undetermined and are a source of recurrent debate among Frost experts.
Early Years in New England
Robert Frost was born and raised in San Francisco, California before his family moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts. During his early years in New England, Frost developed an affinity for the area—especially its rural landscapes—that would eventually be marked by his literary works. Frost’s father passed away when Robert was 11 leaving his mother to raise him and his two sisters. To fend for the family, his mother took up teaching and published William’s poems under pseudonyms.
He attended Dartmouth and Harvard before dropping out and eventually becoming a woodcutter and schoolteacher for a living. In favor of supporting his passion and unwavering commitment to writing, Frost’s parents and teachers encouraged and supported him. Throughout his early adult life as a poet, Frost wrote prolifically while constantly moving within and around New England, including Connecticut and Maine.
Life and Writing in New Hampshire
In 1910 Frost married Elinor White and moved to England, hoping to find an audience for his writing that he could not find in the United States. He spent the next decade in England composing some of his most popular works, such as “A Mourning Scene” and “Birches”.
Returning to the United States in 1920, Frost was eager to settle into a stable home environment. He finally settled in Derry, New Hampshire, where he lived and wrote for the remaining 10 years. In Derry, Frost and his family established the Frost Place, a historical home located in the state of New Hampshire and dedicated to honoring Frost’s poetry.
Though he lived in Derry for only a decade, Frost composed some of the most beloved works of his career. He wrote several of the most well-known poems from his North of Boston and Mountain Interval collections while living in Derry. These include classics such as “The Road Not Taken”, “Mowing”, and “Birches”.
After 1930, Frost made a series of pilgrimages to France, California, and New York. By 1940, Frost and his family returned to the United States, settling in South Shaftsbury, Vermont. From here, Frost composed several other works, such as “West Running Brook” and “The Gift Outright”.
Final Years in Massachusetts and Vermont
In 1941, Frost was offered the position of Poetry Consultant at the Library of Congress, a position he held for two years. In 1945, Frost was offered an honorary degree from Harvard University. Frost famously attended in his cap and gown and teased the audience about their formal attire, “Put on what I brought you”.
Frost lived in Amherst for a brief period before ending his life working closely with Bennington College, Vermont, a small liberal arts college. He often visited the college and lectured his students from 1948 until the end of his life. Frost kept a close correspondence with its faculty and taught a poetry class while living in South Shaftsbury. He also made several trips to Cambridge, Massachusetts to visit Harvard’s library and took a trip to his ancestral home in Scotland in 1957.
Frost passed away in 1963 at the age of 88 in his summer home in Bennington while visiting a doctor’s office. The Frost family eventually donated a section of the property, which became the Frost Farm in 1968. The Frost Farm serves as the official literary home of Robert Frost, honoring his love of New England and his lasting influence on the literary world.
Impact of Frost’s Poetry
Known for his accessible language, rural setting, and use of New England dialect, Robert Frost’s work has seeped its way into the American landscape and has been widely read and discussed since the beginning of the 20th century and is still widely read and studied today.
Frost’s poetry often covers themes of nature, death, grief, and the individual’s search for meaning in life. By using his vivid descriptions of New England’s landscape and culture, Frost is able to capture the nuances and beauty of everyday life in a manner that endures to this day.
His words have provided solace and companionship to readers throughout history, as his works often speak to the human condition and the challenges we all face. Through his work, readers have come to understand that individual experiences often shape our actions and reactions in unpredictable and sometimes unwarranted ways.
Frost’s works have been embraced by literature aficionados and academic scholars alike. His famous poem “The Road Not Taken” is commonly taught in English classes and has been interpreted in many ways and commented on in the classroom. “The Road Not Taken” is often used as an example of poetic structure, as it is composed of a series of verses and turns.
Frost’s poetry has also been celebrated in the naming of certain sites in popular culture. In the early 1980s, the city of Seattle named a bridge spanning the Duwamish River as “The Robert Frost Memorial Bridge.” The bridge was dedicated in a ceremony featuring the reading of several of Frost’s poems.
Honoring Robert Frost’s Legacy
Frost won a total of four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, more than any other poet. He often lectured at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and was a celebrated guest lecturer at prestigious universities around the world. Frost was awarded more than 40 honorary degrees from universities such as Columbia, Yale, and Dartmouth.
He was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal for his “distinguished contribution to American letters” and was named the poet laureate of Vermont. His work was recognized and honored in universities, schools, and organizations throughout the US and beyond.
Following his death, a special memorial garden was created in his honor in the town of Bennington. It is located on the grounds of Frost’s final home, a structure built in his name by his literary fans in the 1940s.
The Frost Place, located in Derry, has been preserved as a museum and visitors center. It honors Frost’s life and continues to host poetry readings and various cultural activities. It remains a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
In addition, several schools have also been named in his honor, including Robert Frost Elementary School in Edinburg, Texas and Robert Frost Middle School in Miami, Florida.
Robert Frost’s life was marked by movement and migration. Though his impact and influence on the literary world is undeniable, it remains largely unknown exactly where the four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet lived. Most of his life was spent in the Northeastern United States, but the specifics of his living arrangements remain a mystery.
Despite the mystery of Frost’s exact home locations throughout his lifetime, his immense contribution to literature has been honored in cities and states throughout the country. Various literary destinations, such as the Frost Place and Bennington Memorial Garden, recognize and commemorate his life and works. He is remembered as one of America’s most beloved poets, a figure whose ideas and views are still relevant today.