Frost in Derry

Charlemagne Bricault, MDV

I sold my eggs to a man who bred White Wyandottes. For a while I was fairly well off until he went out of business. He became a horse doctor in Haverhill.

-- Robert Frost, The Christian Science Monitor, March 8, 1963, page 9.

Quoted in Robert Frost: Farm-Poultryman (1963), page 112.

Portrait of Charlemagne Bricault

Charlemagne Bricault is a name that appears often within Robert Frost's agricultural biography. His daughter Lesley even referred to him in her journals as "docter breako" (1969, Notes).

In 1899 Frost was living in Lawrence, Massachusetts after withdrawing from undergraduate studies at Harvard. The main reason for his withdrawal was a stress-induced respiratory condition. After a physician advised him to change his sedentary routine to one which included work in the out-of-doors, Frost decided to pursue his lifelong interest in chickens. (When Frost was a child in San Francisco he raised a few baby chicks in his backyard.)

Frost started his poultry career by consulting a local veterinarian on the best way to proceed. Charlemagne Bricault had a poultry farm in Metheun, Massachusetts and shared his knowledge of poultry breeding and egg production with Frost. Bricault advertised his farm as concentrating on "Bred-To-Lay" White Wyandotte chickens that produced "Layers Bred From Layers."

Bricault advised Frost in the best ways to set up a poultry farm, sold him incubator eggs, and helped him to rent his first farm in Metheun. He was also the source of the 300 White Wyandotte chickens that accompanied the Frost family to Derry, New Hampshire. Bricault continued to support Frost's farming career by buying his eggs at a subsidized price (Parini, 1999).

Frost profiled Bricault in the only non-fiction article of the poultry trade publications, "Three Phases of the Poultry Industry"and described his farm as, "One of the pleasantest spots in an unusually attractive town, it is calculated to add materially to the effectiveness of its white feathered population. It is high and dry without being arid. In fact every square foot of it would be available for almost any kind of farming. Not the least of its advantages is its convenience to the cars, leaving no one an excuse for condemning Dr. Bricault’s stock or methods unseen..." (1903, page 481).