Poetry great Robert Lee Frost was born in San Francisco, California, on this day in history, March 26, 1874.
Frost spent the first 11 years of his life in San Francisco until his father, journalist William Prescott Frost, Jr., died of tuberculosis, according to Biography.com.
After his death, Frost, his mother and his sister moved in with his grandparents in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
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The move was actually a homecoming for the Frosts, since their ancestors originally hailed from New England, according to Poetry Foundation.
In 1892, Frost graduated from Lawrence High School. He was named “class poet” and served as co-valedictorian with his future wife, Elinor White.
Two years after his high school graduation, Frost’s poem “My Butterfly” was accepted by the New York Independent.
He was paid $15.
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In celebration, Frost printed two copies of a book of six poems called “Twilight” — one copy for himself and one for his wife.
Throughout the next eight years, Frost only had 13 additional poems published, according to Biography.com.
The poet attended Dartmouth College for several months before returning home to work at a number of “unfulfilling jobs,” the website reports.
In 1897, Frost attended Harvard University. He dropped out after two years due to health concerns, returning to his wife in Lawrence.
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Frost, along with his wife and two children, moved to Derry, New Hampshire, in 1900, onto a property purchased by Frost’s grandfather.
Frost’s firstborn, Elliot, died of cholera in 1900. White went on to give birth to four more children.
The youngest Frost child, Elinor, born in 1907, tragically died just weeks after birth.
The Frosts attempted to build a life on the New England farm for the next 12 years, pursuing a variety of unsuccessful endeavors including poultry farming, Biography.com reports.
Frost had two poems — “The Tuft of Flowers” and “The Trial by Existence” — published in 1906.
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In 1912, Frost moved his family to the U.K. after American magazines consistently rejected his work, Poetry Foundation reports.
While Frost continued to write about New England even when living across the pond, he published two poetry books, “A Boy’s Will” (1913) and “North of Boston” (1914).
“North of Boston” featured two of Frost’s most notable poems, “Mending Wall” (1914) and “After Apple-Picking” (1914).
These publications allowed Frost to move back, in 1915, to the U.S. — where he was celebrated as a literary figure.
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Frost met with fellow poets Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas during this time.
They reportedly influenced Frost to write “The Road Not Taken” (1916).
This poem, as well as “Birches” (1915), was published in his book “Mountain Interval” in 1916.
Frost’s reputation grew for writing poems about nature while receiving praise for his traditional lyric and meter, Poetry Foundation reports.
His next book, “New Hampshire” (1923), featured classic poems such as “Stopping by Woods on a Snowing Evening,” which earned him his first Pulitzer Prize.
In addition to writing, the poet pursued a teaching career at several colleges, including Dartmouth College, the University of Michigan and Amherst College in Massachusetts, according to Biography.com.
He taught at Amherst until 1938, when his wife died of cancer. The college’s main library is named in Frost’s honor.
Frost went on the win four Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry, as well as 40 honorary degrees.
In 1960, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by Congress.
At 86 years old, Frost was asked to write and recite a poem for John F. Kennedy’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 1961.
On Jan. 29, 1963, Frost died due to complications from previous prostate surgery.
He was survived by two daughters, Lesley and Irma.
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