Visit Robert Frost's New Hampshire Homes
Article by Mary Emma Allen
Photos by James S. Allen
|Front Home plaque
New Hampshire played a significant role in Robert Frost's life and
was reflected in his poetry. He spent periods of his life in at
least three areas of the Granite State and gleaned materials for
much of his poetry in these towns of Derry, Plymouth and Franconia.
Frost's father was a native of New Hampshire.
Although the poet was born in San Francisco, he returned to New
England when he was ten years old. He grew up in Lawrence, MA, spent
one year at Dartmouth College and studied two years at Harvard
before moving to a farm in the West Running Brook area of Derry in
Frost's Derry Home
|Plaque at the Frost House in
There he farmed, not always as his neighbors might, and taught
English at nearby Pinkerton Academy until 1910.
The Robert Frost Farm
, on Route 28, is open to the public.
This 64-acre farm became a source of
inspiration for Frost as seen by the reverence for nature and farm
life revealed in his poetry. Some of his early poems, such as "Hyla
Brook" and "Mending Walls," are said to have been written here. Hyla
Brook is the small brook south of the farm.
Exhibits from the poet's life, as well as
samples of his poetry, are displayed at the farm. You can walk over
some of the area where Frost got his poetic inspiration along the
trail traversing the nearby woods and meadows.
Frost's Plymouth Home
|The Frost House at Plymouth State
From Derry, the poet moved to Plymouth, where he taught psychology
from 1911-12 at the State Normal School (now Plymouth State
University). Here he, his wife Elinor and their four small children
lived in a white house with Principal Ernest L. Silver. The
residence was located at the corner of Highland Avenue and School
(Incidentally, the University has acquired a
collection of Robert Frost's letters to Dr. Silver.)
While teaching here, Frost continued to write
the poems which would be included in A Boy's Will, his
first book of poetry. The year in Plymouth also inspired poems for
more of his books. He enjoyed walking around the town and outlaying
areas, where he received poetic inspiration from these rambles.
It's said that "A Winter's Walk" was written
about his trek up Ward's Hill, the hill on Highland Street as you
approach the turn-off to the Plymouth Schools. Frost often walked in
the "intervale" south of Plymouth on Route 3, near River Road. Or he
might cross the covered bridge over the Pemigewasset River (now the
steel bridge)and make his way along Holderness Road. Another walk he
often took led past the Draper-Maynard factory and the peg mill on
Route 3 north of town.
After Plymouth, the Frost family spent three
years in England, then settled on a farm near Franconia village in
1915. His poem, "New Hampshire," from a book by the same name, tells
how Frost acquired the Franconia farm from a farmer who didn't want
to sell. "I had to take by force rather than buy," he said of the
The farm Frost purchased lay on the west side
of Sugar Hill, about two miles from the village. It looked out onto
the Lafayette Range and the peaks of Mt. Lafayette, Liberty and
Cannon. His four children attended the village school, and when his
neighbors learned he had been a teacher, they made Frost president
of the local parent-teacher organization.
Here, too, Robert Frost liked to walk, and
his friends and neighbors often saw him trudging along the roads and
country lanes in all kinds of weather. He'd and stop to talk with
those he met. From these conversations and his natural surroundings,
Frost drew much of the material that would appear in future volumes
of poetry, such as Mountain Intervale and
Then reporters began to visit and write
articles about Robert Frost and Franconia. Important personages
stopped in to see him. Carl Sandburg looked Frost up, and his
account of the journey once more brought Franconia into a poem.
As 1916 drew to a close, Frost accepted a
teaching post at Amherst and stayed there until the spring of 1920.
Then he retired to Franconia, intending to remain another year so he
could write poetry uninterrupted.
By now Frost had become quite famous and the
influx of visitors began to intrude upon his relationship with his
neighbors. So Frost and Elinor moved to Vermont one day in
September. Although they never returned to Franconia to live, the
Frosts came back for short visits.
on Ridge Road in Franconia, is open during the summer months, and a
poet-in-residence resides there at that time. Visitors also are
To discover Robert Frost's New Hampshire,
follow the trails to the three areas where he once lived and wrote
his poetry. (Find directions on the various web sites above.) You
also may want to visit
College , which he attended immediately after high school.
(c)Mary Emma Allen
(Mary Emma Allen writes from her woodland home
in NH. In addition to travel writing, she writes and illustrates
books for children and adults. She also teaches writing workshops,
including those on writing one's family history. E-mail: