Stanley Burnshaw, poet, biographer, critic, translator, historical novelist, editor and publisher, political activist, devoted West Tisbury resident and environmentalist, died on Friday at his Oak Lane home. He was 99. For more than four decades he had made his home, often year-round, at Lambert's Cove.

Mr. Burnshaw numbered among his friends such 20th-century literary figures as Robert Frost, James Dickey, Marianne Moore, Allen Tate, Archibald MacLeish, Richard Wright, Alfred Kazin, Christina Stead and Vineyard seasonal residents Jules Feiffer, William Styron and Leon Edel.

Considered one of the nation's leading men of letters, a lecture named in his honor is sponsored annually at the City University of New York and in 1996 he was presented with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by that university. He also received an award for creative writing from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1971. Mr. Burnshaw was the author or editor of more than 20 books. Most recently, in 2002, a definitive collection of his poems and selected prose was published by the University of Texas Press.

Never a tall man, in recent years, the late-in-life effects of a baseball accident of his boyhood had bent his frame so that he walked with a gnarled stick that seemed almost to echo the curves of his own bones. It was a stick that his wife, Susan Copen Oken, had made for him. As recently as last summer, he was still seen out and about with it, lunching at the ArtCliff Diner in Vineyard Haven and visiting at the homes of friends. Though the years had brought frailty, he still moved with assurance and purpose. Though he was eminently cerebral, he had also been physically active all of his life. Indeed, he was good enough with a ball and bat when he was young to have had offers to join two minor league teams. In adulthood, he played tennis and gardened, walked and swam.

On the Vineyard in summer, he would write in the morning, typing with two fingers on the old German Triumph manual typewriter that he treasured. To it he had Scotch-taped - for easy access - the names, addresses and telephone numbers of his agents and friends. He shielded his eyes with an old-fashioned green printer's eyeshade. Then in late afternoon, he would join his Lambert's Cove neighbor, the late Stanley Gabis, for a walk to the beach and down to the Coca Cola Brook. En route, they would talk political philosophy. Though Mr. Gabis, a professor of political science at the University of Missouri, was a neo-conservative, and Mr. Burnshaw had been an outspoken Socialist until 1952, the pair were good enough friends to argue amicably.

Lambert's Cove, ever since his discovery of the Vineyard in 1961, had played an important part in Mr. Burnshaw's life. Not only did he have a home there in a more-than-a-century-old house that was once the gatehouse of the Sen. William Butler estate, Mohu, but it was on the Lambert's Cove beach in 1996, that he met Susie Oken, who would be his fourth wife.

Her dachshund, Judy, as she recounts the story, sighted the two earnest men walking the beach deep in conversation and took it upon herself to interrupt the conversation. In 2003 Judy's mistress married 97-year-old Stanley. For years a cat lover, one of whose cats, Tuffy, would ride on his shoulders when he was out of doors, Mr. Burnshaw soon had become a dog lover as well.

Stanley Burnshaw was born June 20, 1906 to Ludwig Bernstein, an immigrant from Latvia and his Russian-born wife, Sonya. A relative in England, who had no children to whom to give his name, asked that Stanley take the last name Burnshaw. Presumably an inheritance would accompany it, but it never came.

He grew up in Pleasantville, N.Y., where his father had founded an innovative cottage-style orphanage for destitute Jewish children. His early education was there, and it was there, too, in what was then countryside, that he developed a love for the out-of-doors that never left him. He received his B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1925 and when his father was unwilling to support further study in literature for him, he went to work in advertising for a steel company.

"It was a typical immigrant story," Mr. Burnshaw recalled in his book My Friend: My Father. "My father wanted me to go into business and make money."

But, clearly, Mr. Burnshaw's mind was on other things. He was writing and selling his poetry to small magazines and founded a publishing company of his own. Then, when he had enough funds from his advertising job, he went to Paris to study. There he met the French poet Andre Spire and his life changed forever. In 1933, Mr. Burnshaw wrote his first book, Andre Spire and His Poetry.

In 1928, however, Mr. Burnshaw had returned to the United States and was back in advertising. But he kept on writing poetry and did graduate work in literature at Cornell University. He hoped that a job in teaching would result, but it was the Depression and no teaching job was forthcoming so he accepted a position as an editor at the left-wing publication, the New Masses. He also wrote two leftist works, a book of poetry and a verse play in this period. And at this time he had a notable literary-political encounter with the poet Wallace Stevens.

He remained at the New Masses as an editor and critic until 1936 and even after that continued his affiliation with left-wing causes, although he never became a Communist. He hoped until 1952 that the Soviet ideal might cure the world's ills. But then he became disenchanted.

In 1939, he founded his own publishing house, Dryden Press. He was always proud of its having published the first anthology of African-American writing, The New Caravan, in 1941. Dryden merged with Holt, Rinehart & Winston in 1958 but Mr. Burnshaw stayed on as an editor.

It was at Dryden and then at Holt that he began editing and publishing the poetry of Robert Frost. Spire and Frost and Mr. Burnshaw were all concerned in their poetry with man's relation with nature. In 1966, Mr. Burnshaw wrote a biography of Frost, Robert Frost Himself.

Always concerned with the writing and understanding and appreciation of poetry, he wrote The Seamless Web and The Poem Itself: Forty-Five Modern Poets in New Presentation.

Mr. Burnshaw was renowned in literary circles, among his friends and his family for his generosity. In 1959, on a visit to England, he found the Australian novelist Christina Stead down on her luck and promptly arranged to republish her novel The Man Who Loved Children.

Writing friends found that he would always put them in touch with publishers and agents. On the Vineyard, he was immensely pleased that he was able to assist writers Robert Heilbronner, William Peltz and Amyas Ames with editorial and publishing advice. He helped Dr. Peltz publish a biography of Lambert's Cove fisherman Capt. Norman Benson. Always interested in art, he was delighted that an article he wrote for International Arts Magazine about West Tisbury's Stanley Murphy brought Mr. Murphy recognition. A longtime friend of the late Tom Maley and of Robert Schwartz of West Tisbury, Mr. Burnshaw took an active part in the construction of the Field Gallery. Using his hands to build as well as to garden always appealed to him.

With his second wife, Madeline Goodfriend, Mr. Burnshaw had one daughter, Valerie who, in 1970, fell in love with an Iranian, who was studying in the United States. When they returned to Iran at the request of his family, he was arrested and imprisoned by the Shah's secret police for having protested against him in the United States. Mr. Burnshaw had to arrange to get his daughter back. Then, after her fiancee's release from prison, when Mr. Burnshaw's daughter went back to Iran, she was accompanied by her worried father and stepmother, Leda. Some years later, after the birth of a grandson who needed to be in the United States, Valerie returned to this country with her baby.

But the Iranian government would not give the baby's father a passport so Mr. Burnshaw marshaled all his friends and acquaintances in high places - many of them Vineyarders - to put pressure on the government for a passport.

His early years in Paris made Stanley Burnshaw a devoted traveler and after Leda Burnshaw's death, he joined Tom Goethals of Lambert's Cove on a trip to Greece. He also returned to France from time to time.

Mr. Burnshaw was married four times, to Irma Robin, Madeline Goodfriend, Lydia Powsner and Susan Copen Oken.

He is survived by his wife Susan Copen Oaken of West Tisbury and Key Biscayne, Fla.; his daughter, Valerie Razavi and grandson David Razavi, both of New York; two stepdaughters, Nina Oken of New York, Amy Blumberg Coles of Hyde Park, N.Y., a stepson, David Chaitkin of New York and four step-grandchildren and five step great-grandchildren.