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Frances Frost papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 33

Scope and Contents

The Frances Frost Papers contain correspondence, journals, financial records, scrapbooks, and drafts of Frost's poetry, novels, children's books, and short stories. The papers span the years 1919-76, but the bulk of the material dates from 1928-59. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library also owns a life-size portrait head in composite of Frances Frost (one of three) by Anita Weschler that was donated by Jack A. Goldfarb in May, 1972.

Series I, Writings (Boxes 1-11), is divided into four sections, Children's Literature, Novels, Poetry, and Shorter Works. The section on Children's Literature begins with drafts of Frost's narrative adaptation of Gian-Carlo Menotti's opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors. Box 1, folder 2 contains a portion of the dialogue from the opera, which Frost preserved intact, and a reproduction of "The Adoration of the Magi" by Hieronymous Bosch, which inspired Menotti. There are also some articles about Harvard in Box 15, folder 268, upon which Frost based her book The Cat That Went to College. A number of galleys and page proofs for the Windy Foot books are also preserved with the Oversize material. Whittlesey House published Frost's juvenilia, beginning in 1943 with Legends of the United Nations, a collection of folk tales from all over the world. They rejected "Paddy Reilly," however, in 1955 because the manuscript was "too episodic" (Box 2, folder 25).

Like her other writings, Frost based her novels upon her New England upbringing and often featured strong female characters. According to a scrapbook of reviews about her second novel, Yoke of Stars, Frost had a flowing lyric style, "appealing human characters," and a "hearty and wholesome message" (Box 13, folder 256). The Novels subseries contains contracts for three other novels, a synopsis of Uncle Snowball, which was not recommended for a movie "unless a quiet, serene story is wanted" (Box 3, folder 40), and various drafts for her last novel, Village of Glass.

The bulk of the Writings series consists of poetry, found in Boxes 3-10. Thirty-one notebooks covering the period 1928-59 begin the section. They are arranged chronologically and contain early drafts and publishing information about each poem, such as submissions, rejections, and acceptances. Financial information concerning the poems may also be found with Frost's financial records in Box 12, folders 238-42. Over one thousand loose poems, arranged alphabetically by title, follow the notebooks in letter general files. Books of verse and printed versions of poems in magazines are given separate folders and interfiled alphabetically by title. Poetry written for both adults and children is represented in the subseries. Some of the poems were later set to music by Earl Roland Larson and may be found with Shorter Works in Boxes 10-11. A folder of newspaper clippings of Frost's poems completes the section. Other printed versions of her poems are found in scrapbooks (Box 13, folders 255-57). An untitled draft filed in Box 10, folder 166 was probably the last collection of verse that Frost wrote before her death.

Shorter Works include short stories, essays, plays, and music scores. Both juvenile and adult fiction are represented in this section. Most of Frost's stories are in manuscript, although a few printed versions from magazines are included, together with one recording on magnetic tape of the "Voice of America's" broadcast of "The Heart Being Perished."

Series II, Personal Papers (Boxes 12-14), is arranged alphabetically by type of material. There are twenty-six folders of letters Frost received from magazines like Virginia Quarterly and Atlantic Monthly, from George Abbe at the Book Club for Poetry, who published This Rowdy Heart in 1954 through the Golden Quill Press (Box 12, folder 213), and from the Arthur P. Schmidt Company, which sent her ten dollars for every poem they set to music. Poets like Edwin Arlington Robinson sent her wedding congratulations, Witter Bynner praised her poem "Rocking Chair," and Karlton Kelm admired her first novel Innocent Summer. Ivan Beede wrote from the MacDowell Colony wishing her a "strenuous, happy, and fruitful visit to Germany" and quipping that "the beer can't have gone Nazi" (Box 12, folder 211). There is also a letter from Gertrude Stein to Lindley Hubbell about the writer Windell Wilcox. The Library of Congress sent a permission form signed by N. Carr Grace in 1968, releasing her rights to the library's sound recording of Frost reading poetry in 1955.

Frost's journals begin with two early diaries from high school and a third of her impressions of Germany in 1936. In two later notebooks, she records overheard conversations and lists such things as names to be used in her writing. There are only two early photographs of Frost in the papers and one of James Houston Spencer. Three scrapbooks include printed clippings of Frost's poems, articles about her, and reviews of her work from 1930-58. Seven additional scrapbooks contain the poetry of other writers, such as Robert Frost (to whom she was not related), Dorothy Parker, and William Carlos Williams. There are also clippings of poems by other residents of the MacDowell Colony, such as Babette Deutsch and Louis Untermeyer. Three folders of writings by others complete the series. Alice Hunt Bartlett's article about American poetry, filed here, mentions Frost and a play written at the MacDowell Colony in 1936 in which Frost is described as "A daughter of rock-ribbed Vermont," "An interpreter of life -- and of nature," and "A New England pagan" (Box 14, folder 266).


  • 1919-1976 (inclusive), 1928-1959
  • Majority of material found within 1928 - 1959


Physical Description

Other Storage Formats: oversize

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 17 (audiotape reel): Restricted fragile. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Frances Frost Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were purchased from Frances Frost's executrix, Mrs. N. Carr Grace, on the Danford Barney Fund in May 1972. In March 1977, Harper & Row, Inc. donated the galleys and mock-ups for the 1976 reissue of Christmas in the Woods.


8.5 Linear Feet (18 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers contain correspondence, journals, financial papers, scrapbooks and drafts of Frost's poetry, short stories, and longer works.


Frances Mary Frost, poet, novelist, and author of children's books, was born in St. Albans, Vermont, on August 3, 1905, to Amos and Susan Keefe Frost. She attended Middlebury College from 1923-26 and later graduated from the University of Vermont with the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy in 1931.

Frost worked as a reporter in 1927 and taught creative poetry at the University of Vermont from 1929-31 before devoting her time to writing. Her first book, Hemlock Wall, was published by the Yale University Press in 1929 as part of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. It was succeeded by ten volumes of verse, including Woman of this Earth, published by Houghton, Mifflin, & Co. in 1934. She was a frequent contributor of poetry and fiction to the New York Herald Tribune and to such magazines as Harper's and Saturday Review. In addition to the four volumes of poetry she wrote for children--Pool in the Meadow, Christmas in the Woods, The Little Whistler, and The Little Naturalist--Frost published over a dozen books of juvenile fiction, including the Windy Foot series. Farrar & Rinehart also published five of her novels between 1936-42, including Yokeof Stars, Uncle Snowball, and Village of Glass. She spent her summers from 1931-37 at the MacDowell Colony in Peterboro, New Hampshire, and received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America along with Lola Ridge and the Golden Rose Award of the New England Poetry Club in 1933.

Both of Frost's marriages--to W. Gordon Blackburn of Portland, Oregon, on April 4, 1926 and to Samuel Gaillard Stoney of Charleston, South Carolina, on September 18, 1933--ended in divorce. She spent the last years of her life in New York City and died of cancer at her home at 79 Horatio Street on February 11, 1959. She was survived by her son, the poet Paul Blackburn, and by her daughter, Sister Marguerite of the Order of St. Joseph.

Processing Information

Folder 180 in box 10 is unused. Original audiotape reel is now housed in box 17. Restricted fragile material.

Guide to the Frances Frost Papers
Under Revision
by Karen V. Kukil
August 1988
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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