Robert Frost, one of the most beloved poets in American literature, married Elinor White in 1895. Frost met Elinor while they were both students at the prestigious Lawrence High School. Frost was highly influenced by Elinor’s intelligence and enthusiasm for literature and the arts. They began their courtship after correspondence with each other through letters, postcards, and cards–composing love poems for one another to nurture their relationship. With the aid of Frost’s brother, Elinor’s mother gave permission for the two to marry when Frost was 19 and Elinor was only 18.
Elinor White was one of the most distinctive women of her generation. She was a brilliant student, earning near perfect grades since elementary school. This quality significantly influenced Frost’s work, as Elinor made edits on almost all of his manuscripts prior to publication. Additionally, her efficiency and insight allowed her to support their homely life through her teaching career and position as the headmistress of a private school.
Frost would go on to have a long, fruitful career in poetry, publishing his first works in publications such as The Independent and The Atlantic Monthly. Over time he released several collections of poems, including A Boy’s Will and North of Boston, that pioneered a new style of poetry that blended the rural Vermont language of his formative years with a modern, sophisticated form of writing. Frost’s marriage to Elinor allowed him to flourish as an artist, as she was an incredible sounding board for his work.
The marriage between Robert and Elinor was strained by the mental health of their four children, two of which were banished from the family home and subsequently sent to asylums. Despite this, the couple remained married for nearly 40 years before Elinor’s death in 1938. Robert’s grief was expressed in several of his late works, notably the poem “Elinor Frost,” which catalogs the many aspects of his beloved wife.
By all accounts, Robert Frost married the woman of his dreams. Proud of her accomplishments, Frost named the public grazing lands of his 800-acre farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, the Elinor White Memorial Park. Frost’s memories of his wife would remain close to him throughout his life and continue to inform his work long after his wife’s passing.
Early Relationship with Elinor White
Robert Frost and Elinor White first met in school, both attaining high marks and evolving as one of the brightest student couples at Lawrence High School. Elinor’s wit and intelligence contrasts Frost in many ways, allowing for an immaculate trust between the two. They began to drift apart when Frost expressed an interest in poetry, viewed by White as childish. In the end, it was this poetic victory which brought the two together in marriage.
Elinor White was highly praised by Frost’s contemporaries and associates, who remark on her immense intelligence, grace and strength. During the Victorian era, Elinor, although young, was seen as a lamp of hope for young, ever-changing womanhood. Her educational excellence set her aside from the crowd, pushing her to reach bigger heights, including marriage with the renowned Robert Frost.
Through their initial meetings and long-standing companion, Frost and Elinor White developed a strong bond, which ultimately gave way to courtship. This union was heavily documented in their love letters and poems, in which they penned their own, then shared them during their visits. Ultimately, Frost proposed, to which Elinor accepted, and the two began their mutually beneficial alliance.
Throughout their relationship, the two were quite free, often discontening the or traditional, expected ways of living. They even paid tribute to their non-conformist spirits by naming their farm, located in Franconia, New Hampshire, the “Derry Farm.” An exemplary of the affection they had for one another.
It was this strong bond of trust and respect which made Elinor White and Robert Frost’s relationship workethouhgh hardships and dissapointments. Combining Frost’s poetic inclination and Elinor’s inspiring courage, the Frost family movedto forward together and support each other until Elinor’s departure in 1938.
Parenting and Domestic Life
Robert Frost and Elinor White were very much devoted to their four children, Elliot and Lesley, Irma, and Elinor. The Frosts were homeschoolers, an uncommon practice at the time, as Elinor acted as their most effective teacher and mentor. IIn addition to parenting, Frost did not take the traditional occupational roles, looking for payed careers for himself. Instead, he relied on Elinor’s income as a teacher and headmistress of a private school to supplement their income.
Elinor was known as a very attentive and compassionate mother, always guiding her children to success with her poise and grace. Even in their most difficult times, she held the family together through her steadfast leadership. However, her beloved children nevertheless attibuteded to the tension between him and his wife.
Two of their children, Lesly and Elliot, suffered from mental illnesses. While the Frosts tried their best to ensure their children’s well-being, they made the difficult decision to put their children in asylums. In his poem “Home Burial,” Frost visualized his innermost thoughts in the form of a dialogue between a grieving couple who lost their young son from illness.
The Frost’s domestic life was characterized by immense love and unfaltering commitment. Indeed, Elinor was supportive of Frost and his endeavors, often editing his poems with her clever insight, and even taking inspiration from their disagreements. Robert Frost was a firm believer in Elinor’s powers, allowing her to nurture their children and become one of the most esteemed headmistresses of the era. Through this lifelong partnership, Elinor White and Robert Frost made huge accomplishments, which subsequently evolved American Literature.
Legacy of Love
Robert Frost’s marriage to Elinor has left a lasting impression on his poetry. His works often center around love, pain, and sorrow, all of which he experienced through his relationship with Elinor. His most successful piece, “The Road Not Taken,” is widely recognized as a metaphor for Elinor’s decision to pursue Frost despite societal expectations. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” was written in memory of Elinor around the time of her death in 1938.
The frosts were among the few couples of their era to remain committed only to each other despite their tumultuous and trying times. Many of Frost’s work revolves around hisdeparting love for Elinor as his favorite lady throughout his lifetime. He also incorporated her honest opinions that shaped his works and entire literary career for the better. Endlessly devoted, Frost provided for her in every way possible, including giving the grazing lands of their farm in Franconia the name, “Elinor White Memorial Park.”
Robert and Elinor White’s marriage has been talked about for centuries, as well as celebrated by scholars, academicians, and authors. Students and educators alike use Robert Frost’s work to discuss his long-term relationship with Elinor and its power to challenge societal conventions. By understanding these works, budding poets can grow to understand and appreciate the complexities of balancing marriage, life, and art.
Despite the traditional roles expected of women in the early 20th century, Elinor White was a visionary thinker and creative contributor. Elinor made it a point to read, comment on, and guide Frost’s work to its final publication. In fact, Frost acknowledged her contributions throughout his poetic career, stating that her edification and critiques were what elevated his poems to unparalleled heights.
Elinor effectively changed the way we think about women in traditional households. She helped him produce works such as “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening” and “A Road Not Taken” as an exemplary editor. Her words of wisdom and guidance allowed Frost to become the most applauded poets of his time. Elinor wasn’t just behind the scenes; She was an active conductor of the orchestra, emphasizing new tones and textures in Frost’s work.
Elinor White acted as a much-needed guiding hand in the turmoil of their family’s mental health conditions, her students’ education, and Frost’s overarching poetic career. She even was recognized by Frost with a poem he wrote for her, following her passing in 1938. This speaks volumes as to just how influential she was in Frost’s career, as she was the one that pushed him to become the renowned poet that we know today.
Publication of Work
Robert and Elinor’s strong bond of commitment and trust eventually pushed Frost to follow his ambitions of becoming a published poet. The imminent prospect of a boo peer lifestyle motivated Frost to send his works to multiple well-regarded magazines, hoping to gain a spot. Elinor was always by his side, providing him with moral support and gentle criticism whenever necessary.
Eventually, his work paid off, as Frost became a renowned poet, widely appreciated by critics and authors alike. With Elinor’s help, Frost published his first works, such as The Atlantic Monthly, The Independent, and eventually his first collections of poetry in 1913, A Boys Will and North of Boston.
Throughout his career, Frost’s style became more recognizable and distinct. His use of rural New England language and his intricate constructions created a new style of thought-provoking poetry. Elinor was always exploring and implementing her critiques to Frost, who was already refined and professional since his student days. Thus, the poems Frost wrote throughout his career is a testament to his valuable relationship with White.
Throughout their 40-year union, Robert and Elinor Frost faced numerous adversities and a plethora of life changes. They loved, laughed, and endured their sorrows all together as one, relying on their faith and competence to make it through. In the end, Elinor passed in 1938, abruptly leaving a hole in Frost’s heart. He wrote the poem Elinor Frost to commemorate her life, immediately prior to her death.
In the years following Elinor’s passing, Robert Frost continued to write his beloved works, using Elinor’s moments as inspiration. In 1940, he received the first of four Pulitzer prizes that would crown him as one of the premier figures in American letters for the entire century. This success and recognition were partially owed to Elinor’s contribution to Frost and his artistic career. Indeed, Frost was the first American poet to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Continuing his journey, Frost participated in the Kennedy Inauguration, becoming one of the most celebrated poets in the world. He also taught a poetry class at Amherst College and becoming a professor of poetry. His passion for excellence was alsos shared by Elinor and her students, as Frost was a huge career advocate for magna cum laudes around the country.
The death of his beloved Elinor undoubtedly had an impact on Frost’s later years, influencing both his writing and life decisions. Nonetheless, the bond the two shared lives on in his masterful works,most notably in his poem “Elinor Frost.” Until his death in 1963, Frost was a beacon of hope, passion, and perseverance, exhibiting his never-wavering love for Elinor.