Frost in Derry

Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn

Locality gives art.

-- Robert Frost

From Notebook 13, 10r. Quoted in Frost, R and Faggen, R. (ed.) The Notebooks of Robert Frost (2007), page 183.
The Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire: Present Day
The Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire: Present Day

The photograph shows how the farm in Derry, New Hampshire looks in the present day.

Rebecca Siegel (Grongor) (August 20, 2010). Robert Frost House. Retrieved November 10, 2014 from Flickr Commons. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

 

Robert Lee Frost's move into a 30-acre farm in the town of Derry, New Hampshire was recorded on October 5, 1900 by Derry News, the local paper, as follows, "R. Frost has moved upon the Magoon Place which he recently bought. He has a flock of nearly 300 Wyandotte fowls."

In addition to the chickens, Frost came to the Derry farm with his wife Elinor and a one-year old daughter, Lesley. The entire family was in deep grief over the death of three-year Elliott on July 8, 1900. He died a possibly preventable death from cholera or typhoid -- two months away from his fourth birthday.

The family's adventure was clouded by even more difficulties: Frost's mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. (She would die a month later on November the 2nd). Frost himself was suffering from a stress-induced respiratory condition and advised by a doctor to work outside to stave off its symptoms. Finally, this was not his first farm: the family was recently evicted from a rented farm in Metheun, Massachusetts. Their landlady threw them out for failure to pay rent and for allowing chickens to roam freely in and out of the house.

These troubles were perhaps signals of a deeper distress: Frost he had no steady job or profession, had dropped out of undergraduate studies from first Dartmouth and later Harvard, and was much more focused on pursuing a literary career than on an agricultural adventure as a chicken farmer. But Frost and his family moved into the farm and its connected farmhouse with muted hope and purpose.

Robert Frost House - Barn Windows
Robert Frost House - Barn Windows

The Robert Frost Homestead is now a museum owned by the State of New Hampshire. On May 23, 1968 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

Rebecca Siegel (Grongor) (August 20, 2010). Robert Frost House. Retrieved November 10, 2014 from Flickr Commons. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.