New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1919. Second, limited American edition and first illustrated edition. Hardcover. This is an author’s presentation copy of the second American edition (and first illustrated edition), and is both inscribed and signed by Frost. A lovely inscription entirely in Frost’s hand is inked in black eight lines on the recto of the second blank endpaper preceding the half title: “For Louise Coolidge Carpenter | from | Robert Frost | who | as early as the year 1918 | recognized by certain | signs the artist in her.” Frost signed in the lower right margin of the frontispiece portrait by Chapin: “Robert Frost”.
Louise Coolidge Carpenter (1901-1995) was born in Framingham, Massachusetts to U.S. Senator Marcus A. Coolidge and Ethel Warren Coolidge. Louise was a painter, explaining the author’s reference to “signs of the artist in her”. Although we are unaware of their relationship, it must have been sustained; Frost’s inscription implies that he knew her as early as 1918, a full decade earlier than her 1928 marriage to Donald Fell Carpenter (1899-1985), who would later become the first civilian Chairman of the Military Liaison Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission.
Originally published in England in 1914 and the U.S. in 1915, North of Boston opens 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. The edition was beautiful, but fragile.
This author’s presentation copy is in good condition, sound, but showing age, wear, and, perhaps, the well-handled regard in which it was held by the recipient. The binding remains square and tight, but soiled, with overall scuffing to the boards and spine and a small, whitish stain to the lower front cover. The contents are fully intact, all illustrations and tissue guards present. Moderate spotting appears at the endpapers, the blank versos of some illustrated plates, and the untrimmed page edges. Frost’s inscription and further frontispiece portrait signature remain distinct with no appreciable fading.
Iconic American poet Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963) was the quintessential poetic voice of New England. Ironically, Frost was born in San Francisco and it was a 1912 move to England with his wife and children – “the place to be poor and to write poems” – that catalyzed his recognition. A Boy’s Will was completed in England, published by David Nutt in 1913. A convocation of critical recognition, introduction to other writers, and creative energy supported the 1914 English publication of Frost’s second book, North of Boston, 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 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 his final decade and a half 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 #004546