October 26


In a letter addressed to Robert Frost on this day in 1912, Mrs. M.L. Nutt, an English publisher, wrote: “I have looked through your MS and I am personally interested in the treatment of your theme. I am therefore disposing to bring out your poems if the proposal I can put before you and which would be on the principle of a royalty payment will suit you. I cannot put a dry and cut proposal before you as yet, as I want to think about the most suitable form to give the book but I hope to be in a position to do so very soon.”

The “form” in which Frost’s first book, A Boy’s Will, finally appeared was scarcely in a class, typographically, with many of his later publications. The poet was most fortunate in his printers, becoming—as Paul A. Bennett has written—the “best-printed” American author. As early as 1912, when he was living in England and his initial effort had not been published, he was in correspondence with that distinguished entrepreneur of the limited edition, Thomas B. Mosher of Portland, Maine. Mosher was all for pirating some of the poems which were collected in A Boy’s Will. Frost, extremely anxious to achieve circulation in the United States, was not particularly unhappy to have him do so, although he wrote of his publisher, Mrs. Nutt, that she would not look kindly on such a venture.

At about the same time, Frost wrote to Mosher telling him that he was thinking of offering some of his poems to the New York publisher, Mitchell Kennerley, in which case Frederic Goudy, then printing for Kennerley, might have become a Frost printer. Actually, the poet had to wait until 1928 to see his work issued from the press of one of the great printers, when the limited edition of West Running Brook was produced by Daniel Berkeley Updike at the Merrymount Press. The following year an early Frost play, A Way Out, was printed by John Fass at the Harbor Press. This edition, in Caslon type, received the accolade of selection for the Fifty Books of the Year.

In 1930 Frost’s Collected Poems were produced by Random House by the printing craftsman who has since been most identified as the Frost printer, Joseph Blumenthal of the Spiral Press. This splendid book, handset in Lutetia type, was also a Fifty Book selection. In 1933 William Addison Dwiggins has the opportunity to do a Frost poem, The Lone Striker, for the Alfred A. Knopf Borzoi Chapbook series.

In 1950 the Limited Editions Club issued a two-volume edition of Frost’s poems, entrusting the typographic treatment to the hands of Bruce Rogers and the illustrations to the wood engraver, Thomas W. Nason. Two limited editions designed by Joseph Blumenthal, A Witness Tree and A Masque of Reason, were fine enough for inclusion in the Fifty Books, as were the Modern Library edition of the poems produced in 1946 and the trade edition of Frost’s last book, In the Clearing, published in 1962.

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