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The Personal Heresy

"Every great man nowadays has his disciples,
and it is always Judas who writes the biography."

—Oscar Wilde

In 1978 I published "Acceptable in Heaven's Sight: Robert Frost at Bread Loaf, 1939-1941," an account of three of eight summers of conversations with the poet in which—probably for the first time in print—he summarized the many serious flaws in the deliberately warped and repulsive portrait of Frost presented in Lawrance Thompson's "official" three-volume biography. Six years later, William H. Pritchard's Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered corrected some of the more grievous faults in Thompson's work, while covering only a few selected portions of the poet's life. In a review article of Pritchard's book, I emphasized that a new, accurate, complete, and balanced biography of Frost was badly needed.

The specific grounds of Thompson's mean-spirited biography were revealed in 1986 by Donald G. Sheehy in an excellent article, "The Poet as Neurotic: The Official Biography of Robert Frost." Examining the approximately 2,000 pages of Thompson's "Notes from Conversations with Robert Frost" in the Manuscripts Department of the University of Virginia Library, Sheehy discovered that Thompson had radically revised the first two volumes of his biography to fit his psychological...

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