Signed Program From One of Robert Frost’s First Public Readings

After the First U.S. Publication of a Book of His Poetry

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From his landmark year of 1915, what his biographer calls his first year of triumph

Robert Frost was an English teacher at Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire from 1906 to 1911. It was here that he developed the poetic voice which later won him the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times, and...

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Signed Program From One of Robert Frost’s First Public Readings

After the First U.S. Publication of a Book of His Poetry

From his landmark year of 1915, what his biographer calls his first year of triumph

Robert Frost was an English teacher at Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire from 1906 to 1911. It was here that he developed the poetic voice which later won him the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times, and world fame as one of America’s foremost poets. Frost’s residence while teaching at Pinkerton – Derry Farm – is now a state museum.

Frost’s time at Pinkerton was a busy one, as he kept up his farm, wrote poetry, and performed his academic responsibilities. His curriculum stressed reading, poetry, composition, and public speaking. In addition, he coached debaters in the school’s Philomathean Society. These societies sprung up all over the United States in the 19th century, and had as their purpose the desire to promote the learning of their members. Frost was a good public speaker, so soon he was also giving talks around the state, often to teachers conventions.

In 1911 Frost left Pinkerton and begins teaching at New Hampshire State Normal School in Plymouth, a school that trained future teachers. But in 1912 he and his family moved to England, where he continued to write poetry and farm. He now stood at the brink of success. In 1913 and 1914, Frost’s first books of poetry were published in England – A Boy’s Will and North of Boston. In 1915, with Europe at war, Frost relocated his family to Franconia, New Hampshire; and that landmark year for him also saw publication of American editions of these first two poetry books. Frost was now a celebrated literary figure; his biographer dubbed 1915 as the first of Frost’s “Years of Triumph”.

Pinkerton Academy was keen to have Frost return to give a poetry reading, and he agreed. On November 19, 1915, at 8 pm, in an event sponsored by his own Philomathean Society, Frost gave that reading. This is the program from that reading, possibly his first at Pinkerton after being thrust into fame.

Program signed, the title page stating proclaiming his new status: “Readings from his Works by Robert Frost, the New American Poet.” The program indicates that he read “The Code, “The Death of the Hired Man”, as well as “Other selections from his works”.

This is the first time we have had, or can recall seeing, a program for a Frost public poetry reading with this early a date. It is a scarce memento of his first “year of triumph”.

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