Frederick Manfred

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Frederick Feikema Manfred (January 6, 1912 – September 7, 1994) was a noted Western author. Manfred's novels are very much connected to his native region. His stories involve the American Midlands, and the prairies of the West. He named the area where the borders of Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska meet, "Siouxland."

Biography[edit]

Manfred's house outside Luverne, Minnesota, now the Blue Mounds State Park interpretive center

Manfred was born in Doon, Iowa. He was baptized Frederick Feikes Feikema, VII, and he used the name Feike Feikema when he published his first books. He was the oldest of six boys, all over six feet tall, and was himself six feet nine inches tall.

Manfred was raised in the Christian Reformed Church. James Bratt argues that Manfred rebelled against this upbringing, being filled with "religious doubts and ethical chafings."[1] Bratt goes on to discuss this influence that this upbringing had on Manfred's writing, and suggests that the qualities of his work - "earthy detail, metaphysical sweep, both set to biblical cadence - are precisely those of his native faith."[2]

In 1937 Manfred worked as a sports reporter for The Minneapolis Journal. He was fired a couple years later, due to his involvement in union organization. Shortly after this Manfred developed tuberculosis and entered Glen Lake Sanatorium in Oak Terrace, Minnesota, in April 1940. It was in this sanatorium that he met his future wife Maryanna Shorba. Manfred left the sanatorium in 1942 and worked on the staff of Modern Medicine and as assistant campaign manager for Hubert Humphrey, who was a candidate for mayor of Minneapolis. He fictionalized this period in his book Boy Almighty, published under the name Feike Feikema.

Manfred published The Primitive, the first novel in his World's Wanderer trilogy, in 1949. It was poorly received, and the next two books in the trilogy, The Brother (1950) and The Giant (1951), met with mixed reviews. In 1952 Manfred decided to changed his name from Frederick Feikema to Frederick Feikema Manfred, and Frederick Manfred became his publishing name. Lord Grizzly, the first of "The Buckskin Man Tales," was the first work Manfred published under his new name. It was a best seller and one of the finalists for the National Book Award in 1954. The "Buckskin Man Tales" are the novels Lord Grizzly, Conquering Horse, Scarlet Plume, King of Spades, and Riders of Judgment.

For a time he lived in a house which is now the interpretive center of Blue Mounds State Park in Rock County, Minnesota. He attended Calvin College in Michigan.

Manfred was the writer-in-residence in the English Department at the University of South Dakota during the 1970s and 80s. According to his daughter Freya Manfred, "Many of those who drank coffee with him, watched him, listened to him, learned from him, are now well-known national or regional writers: Pete Dexter, Michael Doane, Elly Welt, William Earls, Dan O'Brien, Linda Hasselstrom, Craig Volk, Bill Holm, John Calvin Rezmerski, and Joe and Nancy Paddock"

Manfred died in Luverne, Minnesota in 1994, of a brain tumor, at the age of 82.[3]

Fiction[edit]

Note: There are also a handful of non-fiction titles, notably The Wind Blows Free, a memoir of the Dust Bowl, Conversations with Frederick Manfred, and Prime Fathers and Duke's Mixture, anthologies of FM's essays.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bratt, James (1984). Dutch Calvinism in Modern America: A History of a Subculture. p. 170. 
  2. ^ Bratt, Dutch Calvinism in Modern America, p. 176.
  3. ^ Grimes, William (September 9, 1994). "Frederick Manfred, Novelist Who Wrote Of West, Dies at 92" (obituary). The New York Times. Retrieved August 2, 2010. 

References[edit]

Robert C. Wright, Frederick Manfred (Twayne's United States Authors series ; TUSAS 336)