New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915. First American edition, second printing. Hardcover. This is the first U.S. edition, second printing of Robert Frost’s second published book, which bolstered his newly minted literary reputation and precipitated his return to the United States from England, where his first two books were published. North of Boston opens with the famous poems “The Pasture” and “Mending Wall” and was swiftly hailed by important reviews when originally published in 1914. What renders this otherwise humble second printing noteworthy is presence of the original dust jacket, which is identical to that of the first printing.
The copyright page erroneously designates this copy as “Third edition, 1915”. It is actually the second printing of the first American edition printed and published by Holt in 1915, with binding and contents the same as those of the first printing of the same year. The dust jacket is printed on the same paper in the same style and with the same price, and the same content, which consists of title, author, price, and publisher on the spine, with the same 5-line blurb and review excerpts on the front face.
Condition of this copy is very good in a fair dust jacket that is substantially complete but nonetheless compromised. The blue cloth binding is square, clean, and tight with sharp corners, but showing light toning as well as light shelf wear to the corners and spine ends. The contents are age-toned, but otherwise clean, with no spotting or soiling. The sole previous ownership mark is an illegible owner initial and surname and “3/92” date inked on the front free endpaper recto. The dust jacket’s chief defect is splits and attendant chipping along both the hinges and flap folds, with a full separation of the front flap. If not for the splits, this would be a very good dust jacket, the faces nearly complete, the spine toned and scuffed, but with only shallow loss at the spine ends. The jacket is 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. Ironically, a 1912 move to England with his wife and children – “the place to be poor and to write poems” – catalyzed his recognition as a noteworthy American poet. 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.” Of note, North of Boston was actually the first of Frost’s books published in America, preceding Holt’s publication of A Boy’s Will in America by one month and reversing the publication order of the British first editions.
Accolades met Frost’s 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 A3.2. Item #006310