Frederick Philip Grove is one of the most important Prairie writers because of the body of his work. He won a Governor General’s Award for his autobiography In Search of Myself (1946) as well as a Lorne Pierce Medal in 1934. He was made a member of the Canadian Author’s Association and received two honorary doctorates from two Canadian Universities. His work received much recognition but he did not have financial success with the exception of his autobiography. In the 1960s and ‘70s his novels became staples for Canadian literature courses across Canada.
Born in Prussia on Feb. 14th, 1879, Frederick Philip Grove was originally known as Felix Paul Greve. He grew up in Hamburg, Germany and attended the Gymnasium Johanneum before leaving for Bonn to study Archaeology and Classical Languages. In 1903, Felix married the wife of one of his friends and later that year was also convicted of fraud and spent time in jail. After he was released from prison, he spent time in both Switzerland and France. Around 1909, after falling into worse debt Felix Paul Greve faked his own suicide and fled for North America. His wife, Else Endell followed him there a year afterwards only to have him leave her in Kentucky while he made his way to Canada. Felix Paul Greve gave up his original identity for Frederick Paul Grove, which he began using around 1912. He also used the pseudonym Fanny Essler for a number of poems which were sent and published in the journal Die Freistatt. This pseudonym is thought to be shared between both Felix and Else.
After arriving in Manitoba, Felix Paul Greve took a teaching job under the name of Fred Grove. He met fellow teacher Catherine Wiens while teaching in rural Manitoba communities and they were married in 1914. Their marriage certificate claims that Grove was six years older than his real age and that he was born in Moscow, Russia. He and his new wife had two children together; with the first dying at the age of twelve and their second was named Leonard Grove who was born in 1930. In 1915 Frederick became a student at the University of Manitoba and in 1922 graduated with a BA in French and German. Frederick Philip Grove eventually gave up teaching to write full time. His first Canadian publications were Over Prairie Trails (1922), Turn of the Year (1923) and Settlers of the Marsh (1925) which is one of the earliest examples of the realist novel in Canada. Grove toured Canada multiple times, heightening his national recognition and eventually took a job with Ariston Press. With Ariston Press, Grove published his autobiography. This career choice brought Grove and his family to Ontario and eventually landed him on a dairy farm. He died in Simcoe, Ontario in 1946 due to a stroke and was buried in Rapid City, Manitoba next to his daughter Phyllis May. Grove’s second wife Catherine lived long enough to learn the truth about her husband's double identities which were discovered by D.O. Spettigue in 1971. (J. McKay)
Editorial note: Grove double life may distract us from his literary achievements. His novel Fruits of the Earth epitomizes the Prairie novel and is an important example of the environmental school of Canadian writing. As the bibliography indicates his literary realism has been compared to American writer Theodore Dreiser and to Quebec writer Gabrielle Roy.
Awarded the Lorne Pierce Medal (1934)
Won a Governor General’s Award for In Search of Myself (1946)
Received honorary doctorates from the University of Manitoba and Mount Allison University (1946)
Made an Honorary Member of the Canadian Author’s Association (1946)
Updated February 12 2015 by Student & Academic Services