The Bread Loaf Summer School of English was founded in 1919 in an effort to provide a graduate curriculum similar to the then-fledgling Summer Language Programs which would focus on the study of English literature. Poet Robert Frost became involved with the school in 1921, and over the next 42 years, was influential in its development and the creation of the annual Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He purchased a 150-acre farm near Bread Loaf in 1939 and stayed there every summer.
The Writers’ Conference has been described as combining “a frantic amount of business with an equally frantic amount of fraternizing, revel, and emotional release.” Some of those latter elements were captured in recently rediscovered 16mm film footage from the College archives. Originally split onto two reels, the footage below shows Robert Frost socializing with colleagues on the tennis court sidelines (including his assistant Kay Morrison and writers Louis Untermeyer and Fletcher Pratt) before playing a game against conference director Ted Morrison.
Only a moment of action from the Pulitzer Prize winner is included, but we hope there may be more footage of Frost’s Bread Loaf revelry that still lies undiscovered in the archives like this one, available on our vimeo page.
Stegner, Wallace. “Bread Loaf in the ’40s.” Middlebury College Newsletter, July 1975