Robert Frost is one of the most famous and popular poets in American history. During his lifetime (1874-1963), Frost published numerous books of poetry, and won the Pulitzer Prize four times — a record unsurpassed by any other poet.
Though Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California, he is known primarily as a New England poet. He moved to a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, in 1915, and taught English at Amherst College in Massachusetts. During the sumer months, he taught at Middlebury College in Vermont. Today, Middlebury College owns Robert Frost's farm, which is registered as a Historic Site and hosts an annual writers' conference every summer.
Even people who don't read much poetry are likely to be familiar with some of Robert Frost's works. His poem, "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening," is often taught in schools and sometimes translated into song. Another poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," is quoted from in S.E. Hinton's famous young-adult book, The Outsiders.
Characteristics common to Robert Frost's poetry include traditional formal verse, and themes that deal with the natural landscape and dark meditations on human existence. Much of Frost's work includes reflections on New England, but he was not purely a regional poet; his words spoke to universal human experiences.
Although Robert Frost achieved remarkable commercial success, he was not immune to tragedy in his personal life. Frost and his wife Elinor had six children together. In 1907, their son Elliott died of cholera. The very next year, their daughter Elinor Bettina died during childbirth. In 1943, after Frost had achieved great success and just been awarded his fourth Pulitzer Prize, his daughter Marjorie died in childbirth in 1934; soon after, his wife Elinor passed away, and his son Carol committed suicide in 1940.
For the rest of his life, Robert Frost lived a quiet life on his New Hampshire farm, spending summers in a cabin in Ripon, Vermont, near the Middlebury campus where he taught. He published a volume of collected poems in 1939, which was followed by two plays, a Complete Poems volume, and 1962's final collection of new poetry, In the Clearing. He also recited an inaugural poem, "The Gift Outright," for John F. Kennedy upon his election in 1961.
Robert Frost died on 29 January 1963, in Boston, Massachusetts. He was buried in Old Bennington Cemetery in Burlington, Vermont. His tombstone reads, "I Had A Lover's Quarrel With The World."
Several months after Robert Frost's death, John F. Kennedy spoke about Frost's legacy at Amherst College. Kennedy said that Frost's death "impoverishes us all; but he has bequeathed his Nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding.”