New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1923. J. J. Lankes. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a particularly clean copy of the first trade edition, first printing of the book that won Robert Frost his first Pulitzer Prize. The first edition is a lovely production, bound in quarter dark green linen cloth over dark green paper-covered boards, with a gold paper label on the front cover illustrated and printed in black, and gilt print and decoration on the spine. The contents are printed on untrimmed white wove paper with gilt top edge, illustrated with four woodcuts by J. J. Lankes (1884-1960), and bound with mottled tan endpapers and yellow and green head and foot bands.
Condition of this copy is near-fine, among the best unjacketed copies we have seen, unusually clean both inside and out. The lovely but fragile publisher’s binding is square and tight with no fading or appreciable soiling, beautifully bright gilt spine print, sharp corners, and handsome shelf presentation. We note only incidental scuffing to the paper-covered boards and negligible shelf wear to the bottom edges. The contents are excellent, notably bright and clean with no appreciable age-toning and no previous ownership marks. A trivial few instances of spotting seem entirely confined to the otherwise clean untrimmed fore edges.
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.”
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 November 1923 (contrary to the “October, 1923” statement on the title page verso) and, in 1924, won Frost the Pulitzer Prize “For the best volume of verse published during the year by an American author”. It was to be the first of his eventual four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry (1931, 1937, and 1943). In an honor accorded few poets, Frost achieved 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. Item #005900