Robert Frost and the Lessons of Wilson Hall​

While Robert Frost, Dartmouth Class of 1896, attended the College for just one term in 1892, he remembered those fall months vividly.

In a 1959 interview with Edward Connery Lathem, Class of 1951, Frost recalled a visit to Wilson Hall, which was Dartmouth’s library from 1885 to 1928. The new, fireproof building made out of red brick and sandstone contained reading rooms, an "Alumni Alcove" with books written by alumni, and more than 30,000 volumes on four levels of stacks.

As the 18-year-old perused the library’s holdings, he was struck by a publication spread out on a newspaper stick. He said, “Here was a magazine I had never heard of, but it had a whole front page of poetry—all the page, three columns… That made a big impression on me.”

In The Independent was Richard Hovey’s poem "Seaward." (Hovey was Class of 1885.) Frost said, "And I saw that poem there. As if I could see it today. That’s why I must have had, more than you’d know, more interest in such a thing: What is that meaning? What does a big serious poem mean? And then I turned over, found talk about it in an editorial. So it meant that I was beginning to think of being a writer, I suppose."

Read more from Dartmouth Alumni

VIDEO: In 2016, Dartmouth College offered "The American Renaissance: Classic Literature of the 19th Century," a Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) on edX.org. In this clip, Donald Pease, the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities, speaks to the ways in which Ralph Waldo Emerson inspired Robert Frost. The course is archived and its content remains available for review.

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