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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).
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.
1919-1976 (inclusive), 1928-1959
Majority of material found within 1928 - 1959
8.5 Linear Feet (18 boxes)
Related Names
Frost, Frances, 1905-1959
Language of Materials