New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes
London: Grant Richards Ltd., 1924. J. J. Lankes. First English Edition. Hardcover. This is the first English edition of the book that won Robert Frost his first Pulitzer Prize. This English edition was bound from U.S. first edition sheets with a cancel title leaf. Only 150 copies were issued, making this edition scarce, and particularly so in the original dust jacket. The first edition is both handsome and fragile, bound in quarter tan linen cloth over light grey paper-covered boards with black spine print. The contents are printed on untrimmed white wove paper illustrated with woodcuts by J. J. Lankes (1884-1960), and bound with mottled tan endpapers and a dull brown topstain. The pleasingly simple dust jacket is printed on a heavy, light brown paper impressed with a “linen” pattern and lettered in black on the front cover and spine.
Condition of this copy is very good in a very good dust jacket. The binding is square and tight, with light toning to the extremities of the paper-covered boards and the spine, a bumped upper rear corner, and trivial shelf wear to extremities. The contents are notably clean with no spotting, though mildly age-toned. Differential toning to the endpapers corresponds to the dust jacket flaps, confirming that this copy has spent life jacketed. The sole previous ownership mark is a neatly and diminutively inked name and date of “November 1930” on the upper front free endpaper. The quite scarce dust jacket is notably intact, with only fractional chipping to the spine head. The jacket spine is toned and the jacket shows modest overall soiling. The jacket is now protected beneath a clear, removable, archival 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. A 1912 move to England with his wife and children – “the place to be poor and to write poems” – finally catalyzed his recognition as a noteworthy American poet. There A Boy’s Will was published 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.” Hence, after his first two books, American editions preceded the English.
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) New Hampshire was published in the U.S. in October 1923 and, in 1924, the year this first English edition was issued, Frost won the Pulitzer Prize “For the best volume of verse published during the year by an American author”. It was to be the first of Frost’s eventual four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry (1931, 1937, and 1943). In an honor accorded few poets, Frost would achieve significant fame and recognition in his lifetime. 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 A6.1. Item #005841