New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1916. First edition, first state. Hardcover. This is a jacketed first edition, first state of Frost’s third published book - Frost’s first book for which the U.S. edition takes precedence. “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 invited to deliver the Phi Beta Kappa poem at Harvard’s Commencement (almost 20 years after he had dropped out) and was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.
Condition is compelling, approaching near fine in a very good dust jacket. 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) The blue cloth binding is tight and beautifully bright and clean, with vivid spine and front cover gilt. Trivial wear is confined to extremities, with small bumps to the upper corners. The contents are likewise impressively clean. Mild differential toning to the pastedowns and endpapers corresponds to the jacket flaps. The ghost of an erased name and “Dec 1919” date on the front free endpaper is the only previous ownership mark. Spotting is primarily confined to the page edges, with only incidental intrusions into the blank inner margins.
Dust jacket condition is impressive. Minor loss is confined to the spine ends and corners, to a maximum depth of just over 1 cm at the upper spine (not affecting the title print) and the upper front flap fold, with a 3cm closed tear at the lower rear hinge and a miniscule hole along the front hinge beside the printed price on the spine. The spine shows light staining (to the lower spine), though no appreciable toning. The jacket is protected beneath a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Iconic American poet 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.”
Holt’s U.S. publication of Frost’s third book in 1916, A Mountain Interval, would be Frost’s first book for which the U.S. edition preceded the British. 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 #004665