New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1919. Second, limited American edition and first illustrated edition. Hardcover. This is the second American edition of the author’s second published book, a striking limited edition published in 1919, four years after the American first trade edition. Opening with the famous poems “The Pasture” and “Mending Wall,” North of Boston bolstered Frost’s newly minted literary reputation and precipitated his return to the United States from England. In 1919, the American publisher issued this second and limited edition of 500 copies. The binding featured a dark green linen spine over lighter green, paper-covered boards with a gilt-stamped spine and gilt front panel with title and author printed in black. The contents feature fourteen illustrations by James Chapin and are printed on heavy, watermarked, laid, linen-rag paper with untrimmed fore and bottom edges. A dust jacket was issued on heavy, dark green laid paper with gilt print on spine as well as the front cover, within a gilt rule frame.
The edition is lovely, but proved fragile, the jacket particularly brittle, the paper-covered boards of the binding easily scuffed and soiled. This copy is very good in a poor dust jacket. The binding remains tight and square with only minor wear, but nonetheless showing minor bumps to the lower front corners and light scuffing and soiling to the covers. The contents are clean and bright with a crisp feel, showing no spotting or previous ownership names. The page edges, including the untrimmed fore and bottom edges, are clean with only mild age-toning. The dust jacket is noteworthy for having survived and has done its job protecting the binding, but suffered in the process. There is a full front hinge split, as well a detached front flap with chipping along the flap fold. We note moderate chipping to extremities to a maximum depth of .75 inches, and the spine and front cover gilt is faded, legible on the front face, barely so on the spine. The dust jacket is now protected and stabilized 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. 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 A3.3. Item #004045