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Robert Frost at Amherst College

Robert Frost (1948)
Robert Frost (1948)

Robert Frost taught at Amherst College, off and on, for over forty years. He first came to campus to give a reading of his poetry in April 1916 while he was working on his third book of poetry -- Mountain Interval. Later that year, Amherst President Alexander Meiklejohn invited Frost to join the faculty with the rank of Full Professor starting in January 1917. Frost taught at Amherst until January 1920 when he quit over a dispute with Amherst Professor Stark Young and President Meiklejohn.

Frost returned to Amherst in 1923, though his formal teaching duties ended in 1925. From 1926 until 1938, Frost was Professor of English on the John Woodruff Simpson Foundation endowment. In this position, Frost held informal classes and readings rather than running regular course assignments.

Frost left Amherst again in 1938 and divided the next decade between Harvard and Dartmouth. He returned to Amherst College in 1949 as the Simpson Lecturer in Literature, an appointment he held until the end of his life in 1963. Although Frost generally viewed teaching as a distraction from the more serious work of writing poetry, he was always generous in giving his time to the students at Amherst.

Amherst College holds an outstanding collection of Frost's appearances in print, including multiple copies of his works in first editions. The majority of our Frost holdings are gifts from Amherst alumni who had the pleasure of knowing Frost during their student days. Published editions of Frost's work can be found by searching the Five Colleges Libraries Catalog. Details on some of our copies can be found on our Books by Robert Frost in the Amherst College Archives pages.

Robert Frost. A Boy's Will (1913)

Inscription by Robert Frost in A Boy's Will (1913)

 A Boy's Will. London: David Nutt, 1913.

This copy of the first printing of the first edition of A Boy's Will(1913) is inscribed by Frost to Martin Howes (AC 1926). In the lower right hand corner Frost wrote "This is in its very first binding R. F." Many of our copies of Frost's books were given to Amherst by the Martin K. Howes estate.

The Robert Frost Collection

The most significant collection of Robert Frost manuscripts is held by Dartmouth. Consult their Guide to the Robert Frost Collection for more information about their holdings and use policies.

Amherst College holds a small group of manuscripts by Frost along with a much larger collection of ephemera, photographs, and sound recordings. Consult the Robert Frost Collection finding aid for details of our holdings. We also hold a substantial collection of Frost's magazine and journal appearances in the Robert Frost Periodicals Collection.

The Jones Library in Amherst also has significant holdings in their Robert Frost Collection.

Amherst College does not have any authority over copyright in Robert Frost's work. Contact information for questions about Frost's copyrights can be found in the WATCH File.

Archibald MacLeish and Robert Frost (1954)
Archibald MacLeish and Robert Frost (1954)

Robert Frost Library

Frost Library

The main library at Amherst College is named for Robert Frost. In 1962 President Plimpton announced that Amherst College had received an anonymous gift of $3.5 million for the construction of a new library to be named in Frost's honor. Robert Frost died in January 1963.

On October 26, 1963, President John F. Kennedy spoke at the dedication ceremony for the new building. Construction was completed in 1965.

For more about President Kennedy's visit to Amherst College, see our web exhibit The President and the Poet.

 

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