New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1916. First edition, first state. Hardcover. This is the first edition, first printing, first state of Frost’s third published book. Mountain Interval is Frost’s first book for which the U.S. edition takes precedence, both A Boy’s Will and North of Boston having been first published in Great Britain. “Mountain Interval, which appeared in November 1916, offered readers some of his finest poems, such as “Birches,” “Out, Out--,” “The Hill Wife,” and “An Old Man’s Winter Night.” (ANB) The volume opens with the poem “The Road Not Taken.” It was in 1916 that Frost was made Phi Beta Kappa poet at Harvard and elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
This copy is in good plus condition. First state is confirmed by repetition of the sixth line on p.88 and the word 'Come,' instead of 'Gone,' on p.93. (Crane A4, p.21) Condition is very good plus. The blue cloth binding remains square and tight with deep, unfaded color and bright gilt. Notably, there is no fading or dulling to the spine, which is unusual for an unjacketed copy. We note only wrinkling and light wear to the spine ends, and a few spots of trivial staining and scuffing to the covers. The contents retain a crisp feel. Spotting appears primarily confined to the endpapers and page edges. The sole sign of previous ownership is the illustrated bookplate (featuring a book press) of Spruill and Sue Cook affixed to the front pastedown. The couple ran “Cook’s School of Speech and Dance” in Texas and Spruill was also a college drama and English instructor.
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 a 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 in 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 A4. Item #004608