You seem to reason that because my mother was religious, I must have been religious too at any rate to start with. You might just as well reason that because my father was irreligious I must have been irreligious too . . . It would be terribly dangerous to make too much of all this.To Lawrance Thompson (1948)(SL, 529)
When you get around to do my biography, don’t try to make it too long, too detailed, too exhaustive and exhausting. Make it somehow sprightly and entertaining so that it will have some zip to it.To Lawrance Thompson (1954)
“Robert Frost was so fascinated by the story of his life that he never tired of retelling it.” Thus Lawrance Thompson opened the first paragraph of the introduction to the first volume of the official biography. In the thirty-three years since the publication of Robert Frost: The Early Years, neither have readers of Frost tired of retelling, untelling, or simply telling off Thompson. The “Frost biographical wars,” as Christopher Benfey remarks in a review of Jay Parini's 1999 Robert Frost: A Life, continue unabated, and at the center of the conflict stand opposed the public figure of the poet as venerable Yankee sage and the figure of the private man as “monster” inscribed in Thompson's biography. The distortion in both aspects of this Janus-Frost has in recent years drawn an impressive array of critics and biographers into the fray, among them William H. Pritchard, Stanley Burnshaw, John Evangelist Walsh, Lesley Lee Francis, Jeffrey Meyers, and, as mentioned, Jay Parini.