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Robert Frost, Winner Of 4 Pulitzer Prizes, Is Dead at Age of 88


Robert Frost, winner of four Pulitzer prizes, died in his sleep early yesterday morning at the age of 88 in Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.

Frost, who was an honorary associate of Adams House from 1954 until his death, attended Harvard as an undergraduate from 1897 until 1899, received a Doctor of Letters degree in 1937, and returned many times to teach, lecture, and read from his works.

In 1936 he delivered the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures and was elected to the Board of Overseers in 1933. He was the Ralph Waldo Emerson Fellow in Poetry from 1939 until 1942, during which period he also served as an associate of Adams House.

Frost entered the hospital December 3 and underwent an operation. Later he suffered a heart attack and blood clots settled in his lungs, causing his death.

In January, 1961, President Kennedy invited Frost to read a poem at his inauguration. Facing a blinding sun, Frost was unable to read the script he had prepared and recited instead "The Gift Outright," a poem he wrote 20 years ago.

Honored by Kennedy

Last March 26, his 88th birthday, he received from President Kennedy a medal voted him by Congress. Earlier, President Eisenhower had named him a consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress.

Frost was born in San Francisco, Calif., March 26, 1874, but, after the death of his father, he moved to Lawrence, Mass., with his mother and sister in 1885. He was co-valedictorian of Lawrence High School in 1890 with Elinor Miriam White, whom he later married.

After graduating from high school he attended Dartmouth College for a few months. Then he worked in a mill, edited a weekly newspaper, and sold his first poem for $20 to the Independent before beginning his two years at Harvard.

After leaving Harvard, he lived near Derry, N.H., for 12 years on a farm bought for him by his grandfather. During this period he also taught English at the Pinkerton Academy and, for a year, psychology at the New Hampshire State Normal School.

Published First Books in 1912

He then sold the farm and, in 1912, moved to England with his family, where he wrote and published two volumes of poetry, A Boy's Will and North of Boston. In 1915 he returned to America, where he was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1916.

In 1917 he was named professor of English at Amherst College, a position he held until 1920 when he helped found the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. He then moved to the University of Michigan, where he was Poet in Residence from 1921 until 1923. He returned to Amherst in 1923 to resume his position as professor of English, a position he held until 1938; he spent one year, 1925-26, as Fellow in Letters at the University of Michigan.

Received Four Pulitzer Prizes

Frost received his first Pulitzer Prize for New Hampshire in 1924. Other of his Pulitzer-Prize winners included Collected Poems, in 1931, A Further Range, in 1937 and A Witness Tree, in 1943.

He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1930 and received the Gold Medal for Poetry of the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1939.

Frost has often lectured at Harvard and other colleges; his most recent visit here was a surprise appearance last October before a Humanities 6 class. He said once that he liked visiting colleges. He didn't, he explained, "know a better place for a poet to hang around for two or three years.

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