|The Frost King|
Cover illustration from The Rout of the Frost King & Other Fairy Poems, 1914.
Key & Biddle
The Frost King, the Frost‐King, or King Frost, is a personification of autumn hoar frost, or of cold, frosty weather in general, who is portrayed as a king. Beyond this basic description, public domain stories are very inconsistent in their depictions of the character: Sometimes he is artistic and benign (bearing a resemblance to Jack Frost) and other times destructive and even villainous (resembling Old Man Winter). Some stories portray him as having a queen, but most sources don’t mention her.
In L. Frank Baum’s books, he is an immortal who reigns during winter. His birthday is the coldest day of the year. His son, Jack Frost, is mischievous, but the Frost King never reproves him for his pranks.
Public Domain Literary Appearances
- “Autumn,” Poems, by Lydia H. Sigourney, 1834. The Frost‐King’s “kiss of dread” makes the rose droop. (Internet Archive)
- “King Frost,” by Charles Swain, The Literary Gazette; and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, &c., no. 1047, 11 Feb. 1837. King Frost has a “Palace of Snow” wherefrom he gallops out and freezes bodies of water with his breath, trapping a boat. He carries an “icicle spear,” and the Blast is described as his herald and Snow as his minister. (HathiTrust)
- Reprinted in The Mind and Other Poems, by Charles Swain, 1841. (Internet Archive)
- “Frost and the Flower Garden,” by Lydia H. Sigourney, The New‐Yorker, vol. 4, no. 15, whole no. 93, 30 Dec. 1837. Various flowers discuss whether or not King Frost and his legions are approaching. (HathiTrust)
- Reprinted in Select Poems, 3rd ed., by Lydia H. Sigourney, 1838. (Internet Archive)
- “Lyrics by Nemo No. XXV,” The Star, vol. 1, no. 26, 10 Feb. 1838. The narrator warns his cousin Charles of cold weather by describing different human reactions to the despotic and easily offended King Frost and his actions, including blowing out cold blasts of wind. (Google Books)
- “The Conquests of King Frost,” as part of “A Familiar Letter to a Friend,” by Sarah Carter Edgarton, The Universalist and Ladies’ Repository, vol. 10, no. 8, Jan. 1842. King Frost is described in warlike vocabulary as causing death and destruction with his conquest of the landscape. (HathiTrust)
- “The Frost‐King: or, The Power of Love,” Flower Fables, by Louisa May Alcott, 1855. (Internet Archive)
- Reprinted in The Frost‐King; or, The Power of Kindness, and How It Prevailed over Fear and Cruelty, by Louisa May Alcott, 1858. (Google Books)
- “The Blue‐Bird’s Complaint,” The Friend of Youth, and Child’s Magazine, vol. 2 (new series), no. 13, Jan. 1861. (Google Books)
- “Frost and Thaw,” Punch, vol. 40, no. 1020, 26 Jan. 1861. (Internet Archive)
- “The Frost‐King,” Rhymes and Jingles, by Mary Mapes Dodge, 1882. (Internet Archive)
- “The Brook’s Song,” by Mrs. M. F. Butts, St. Nicholas, vol. 11, no. 9, July 1884. (Internet Archive)
- “The Frost King and How the Fairies Conquered Him,” Lulu’s Library, vol. 2, by Louisa May Alcott, 1887. (Internet Archive)
- “King Frost,” by Zelia M. Brown, Child‐Garden of Story, Song and Play, vol. 7, no. 3, Feb. 1899. (HathiTrust)
- “A Goal of Hopes,” Birds Uncaged and Other Poems, by Burton L. Collins, 1901. (Internet Archive)
- “A New Theory of Frost: or The Story of the Frost‐King,” by A. E. Brackett, The Prize Poetical Speaker …, 1901. (Internet Archive)
- “The Frost King,” John Nagle’s Philosophy, by John Nagle, 1901. (Internet Archive)
- The Runaway Shadows or A Trick of Jack Frost, 5 June 1901.
- The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, 1902.
- The Wizard of Oz (stage musical), 1902.
- “Why the Evergreen Trees Never Lose Their Leaves,” The Book of Nature Myths, by Florence Holbrook, 1902. (Internet Archive)
- “Another Santa Claus,” by Emma Bolenius, American Motherhood, vol. 35, no. 6, Dec. 1912. (Google Books)
- “The Rout of the Frost King, Being a Veritable Account of His Overthrow by the Zephyrs,” The Rout of the Frost King & Other Fairy Poems, by Eugène Neustadt, 1914. (Internet Archive)
The various personifications of cold weather or wintertime are often conflated and confused with one another in public domain stories. Jack Frost has at times been depicted as a king and called King Frost, and Ded Moroz is often called King Frost in English translations. Santa Claus has also been portrayed as a king.