New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915. First U.S. edition. Hardcover. This is a jacketed first American edition, first state, of the author’s first published book. This first American edition was published in a first printing of 750 copies in April 1915, one month after the American edition of North of Boston. The American publication order reversed that of the preceding British publications of 1913 and 1914, respectively. First state is confirmed by the misprint “Aind” on the final line of p. 14, corroborated by white (as opposed to buff) endpapers. (See Crane, A2.1, p.11). Both glassine and printed dust jackets on tan paper have been reported for the first edition. This dust jacket is the earliest of the three states identified by Clymer & Green, with the “75 Cents” price on the spine and front cover and a blank rear cover.
Condition of the book is good plus in a good dust jacket. The blue cloth binding is square and tight with bright gilt, but modestly soiled with some mottling at the front cover fore edge and minor wear to extremities. The contents remain clean and free of spotting, but age toned. The sole previous ownership mark is the tiny sticker of a Boston bookseller affixed to the lower front free endpaper.
The dust jacket shows only minor chipping to the spine ends and upper rear panel, but suffers a full split at the front hinge and a horizontal closed tear at mid-spine. The jacket spine is toned and scuffed, albeit with all print still clearly legible. The front and rear panels and flaps are clean. The jacket’s front hinge separation is quite unobtrusive with the jacket now protected beneath a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Iconic American poet and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963), the quintessential poetic voice of New England, was actually born in San Francisco and first published in England. When Frost was eleven, his newly widowed mother moved east to Salem, New Hampshire, to resume a teaching career. There Frost swiftly found his poetic voice, infused by New England scenes and sensibilities. Promising as both a student and writer, Frost nonetheless dropped out of both Dartmouth and Harvard, supporting himself and a young family by teaching and farming.
Ironically, it was a 1912 move to England with his wife and children – “the place to be poor and to write poems” – that finally catalyzed his recognition as a noteworthy American poet. The manuscript of A Boy’s Will was completed in England and accepted for publication by David Nutt on 1 April 1913. “Yeats pronounced the poetry “the best written in America for some time” and Frost received “two extraordinary tributes in the Nation and the Chicago Dial and a superb review in the Academy.” (ANB) A convocation of critical recognition, introduction to other writers, and creative energy supported the English publication of Frost’s second book, North of Boston, in 1914, after which “Frost’s reputation as a leading poet had been firmly established in England, and Henry Holt of New York had agreed to publish his books in America.”
Accolades met his return to America at the end of 1914 and by 1917 a move to Amherst “launched him on the twofold career he would lead for the rest of his life: teaching whatever “subjects” he pleased at a congenial college… and “barding around,” his term for “saying” poems in a conversational performance.” (ANB) By 1924 he had won the first of his eventual four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry (1931, 1937, and 1943). Frost spent the final decade and a half of his life as “the most highly esteemed American poet of the twentieth century” with a host of academic and civic honors to his credit. Two years before his death he became the first poet to read in the program of a U.S. Presidential inauguration (Kennedy, January 1961).
Reference: Crane A2.1. Item #004042