Frederick Philip Grove

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For the Native American author Fred Grove (born Frederick Herridge, 1913-2008), see Fred Grove.
Black and white photo of Grove seated at a desk, looking down and writing.
Frederick Philip Grove, circa 1921.

Frederick Philip Grove (February 14, 1879 – September 9, 1948) was a German-born Canadian novelist and translator.

He was a prolific translator in Germany, working under his original name Felix Paul Greve and posing as a dandy, before he left Berlin to start a new life in North America in late July 1909. Settling in Manitoba, Canada, in 1912, he became a well known Canadian fiction writer exploring Western prairie pioneer life in vibrant multi-cultural communities. A bigamist, married twice,[1] Grove constructed his entire life as an intricate web of fact and fiction. He died in 1948 on his estate in Simcoe, Ontario, where he had resided since 1930.


Early life in Europe[edit]

He was born Felix Paul Greve in Radomno, West Prussia, but was brought up in Hamburg where he graduated with the "Abitur" from the famous Gymnasium Johanneum in 1898. After studying Classical Languages & Archaeology in Bonn, he became a prolific translator of World Literature and a member of Stefan George's homoerotic group, the George-Kreis, around 1900. During his year in Munich, he befriended Karl Wolfskehl, and briefly shared an address with Thomas Mann at the Pension Gisels from August to September 1902. In early 1903, amidst scandal, he settled in Palermo, Italy, with Else Plötz Endell, the wife of renowned architect August Endell (Else would later become the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven). In his 1946 autobiography In Search of Myself, Grove suggests that despite the homoerotic context of his work up to late 1902, his first sexual encounter with Elsa determined his sexuality: “If I had not always been so, I had become definitely, finally heterosexual.”[2]

Grove’s rising career took a dramatic downward spin that followed his alliance with Else. Unable to repay loans made by his intimate friend and wealthy patron Herman Kilian, he was promptly charged and convicted of fraud; from 1903–04, he served a deeply humiliating one-year sentence in the penitentiary in Bonn, leaving his reputation destroyed. Much suggests that Kilian (whose Anglo-German ancestry Grove would later appropriate for himself in his Canadian autobiographies) had acted from motives of jealousy. While in prison, Grove composed his first novel, Fanny Essler, a thinly veiled roman à clef about Else’s sexual adventures including her marriage with August Endell.[3] The novel, which moreover poked fun at the Stefan George circle, prompted a complete break from George’s coterie. From 1904 to early 1906, the pair lived in voluntary exile, first in Wollerau, Switzerland, then in Paris-Plage, France, from where Grove paid H. G. Wells a few visits in his Sandhurst villa just across the Channel. In 1906, the couple returned to Berlin, where they were married on August 22, 1907.[4]

Life in North America[edit]

By 1909, Grove was once again in deep financial trouble, having double-sold his latest German translation, Jonathan Swift's Prosa Werke in four volumes.[5] With his wife’s help, he staged his own suicide [6] and departed for North America on the White Star Liner Megantic in late July 1909. His wife, Else Greve, joined him a year later in Pittsburgh, and the couple farmed near Sparta, Kentucky, until 1911, when Grove left her permanently. She modeled for artists in nearby Cincinnati, and later became well known in New York dada circles as the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven after her marriage in 1913 to the German Baron Leopold von Freytag-Loringhoven. Grove moved west and stayed on a large Bonanza Farm near Fargo (based on the Amenia & Sharon Land Company) in the late summer of 1912.

In 1912 Grove, whose legal name was still Greve, arrived in Manitoba, Canada, where he changed his name to Frederick Philip Grove and married a young schoolteacher, Catherine Wiens, on August 2, 1914.[7] There are no records of a divorce from his first wife, who details in her memoir that he had suddenly deserted her.[8] He first taught in rural areas, such as Haskett, Winkler, Virden, and Gladstone, but after settling in Rapid City in 1922, he devoted himself entirely to his writing career. In 1927, Grove and his wife lost their only child, Phyllis May, shortly before her twelfth birthday, which was a devastating loss. In 1928-29, Grove went on three coast-to-coast lecture tours, before the couple moved to Ontario in the fall of 1929. There, their son, Arthur Leonard Grove, was born on October 14, 1930.[9] Grove briefly became an editor with Graphic Publishers, who had published his first autobiographical novel, A Search for America, in 1927, before moving to Simcoe, Ontario. From there, he continued to write despite increasing ill-health, until he suffered a crippling stroke in late 1946. While in Simcoe, he ran for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in the 1943 Ontario general election.[10]

Work and legacy[edit]

Frederick Philip Grove is best known for exploring the Canadian West and its pioneer landscape in non-fiction and semi-fictionalized works such as Over Prairie Trails, Settlers of the Marsh, In Search for America, and In Search of Myself. “Grove gave a voice to the land-hungry pioneers of the West, but also cloaked his past in the ostensible honesty of the prairie pioneer novel.”[11] Grove had much to hide, given his prison incarceration in Germany and the fact that he was leading a double life, having married a young schoolteacher while still married to Elsa (who lived in New York until 1923 and then returned to Berlin where she died in 1927).

Known for his rugged realism and naturalism, Grove created memorable pioneer characters, such as Niels Lindstedt, the hardworking and sexually naive Swedish immigrant pioneer in Settlers of the Marsh (1925); Abe Spalding, the noble but single-minded pioneer in Fruits of the Earth, and John Elliot, the aging and tragic patriarch in Our Daily Bread. Grove patriarchs are all strong and tragic, often lacking the words to change their fates. In contrast, Grove’s female characters are survivors, verbally nimble and often androgynous in assuming traditionally male roles. Most important, Grove’s novels all evoke the polyglot world of immigrants.

His novels are populated with a remarkable diversity of Swedish, German, French, Icelandic, and Ukrainian immigrants, offering a vibrant multi-culturalism as a vision for Canada’s social fabric. As an author he assumed the role of “spokesperson for the young Canadian nation,” who cleverly staged himself as “an adopted son [in Canada]” in lecture tours, essays, and advertisements.[12]

Grove also experimented with forms of modernism, both in staging fictionalized selves in his autobiographical fiction, and in experimenting with unreliable narrators and time shifts in his late novel, The Master of the Mill.[13]


Grove used so many aliases that Karl Wolfskehl called him a ”Pseudologe" and referred to his "Munchhausiaden."

FPG: he used these initials on both sides of the Atlantic.

Grove: an elegant modification of the author's real name, Greve. On the Immigration Manifesto of the White Star Liner Megantic on July 31, 1909, Grove's name was smudged, though the central vowel looks like an "o".

Fanny Essler: Joint pseudonym for F.P. Greve and Else Greve used in 1904-05, for poem published in Die Freistatt.

F. C. Gerden: used in correspondence with his Insel publishers for translations of decadent literature (Dowson, Browning).

Konrad Thorer: used for translations of Cervantes and Lesage.

Andrew R. Rutherford: a pseudonym suggested (but not used) for his first Canadian book Over Prairie Trails (1922); the name, which references Grove's friend Herman Kilian's maternal grandfather, a renowned Scottish judge, also appears in relation to his unpublished typescript in the University of Manitoba Archives, Jane Atkinson (ca. 1923, e-publ. 2000).

Works about Grove[edit]

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven wrote a poem entitled “Kinship,” which is dedicated to Grove: “Memory to F.P.G.” In this poem, she juxtaposes the beginning and the ending of their ten-year relationship, using eroticized horseback riding as a metaphor for a highly charged journey through memory.[14]

Canadian Heavy Metal band Torture for Pleasure quote directly from Groves' novel Settlers of the Marsh in their song "TETELESTAI (Sweet Darkness)" released independently in 2013.

Biographies and scholarship[edit]

D. O. Spettigue discovered Grove’s identity behind a web of fiction in October 1971 in the British Museum. Uncovering Grove’s prison incarceration in Germany, Spettigue published his findings in his 1973 book FPG: The European Years. This monograph was followed by Paul I. Hjartarson’s volume of essays, A Stranger to My Life, and prompted the translation of Grove’s German fiction into English, Fanny Essler, and The Master Mason’s House, both closely based on the life of Grove’s first wife Elsa Plötz (aka The Baroness). Desmond Pacey edited The Letters of F.P. Grove in addition to publishing a monograph, Frederick Philip Grove, while Margaret Stobie explored Grove’s teaching years in Manitoba in her book, Frederick Philip Grove.

Leading later efforts to establish the identity of Greve/Grove by unearthing new biographical information and relevant records, Klaus Martens has been "the chief pioneer" (W.J. Keith). Exploring both the European and Canadian contexts, Martens published Felix Paul Greves Karriere (in German), Felix Paul Greve - André Gide (correspondence in English, French, and German), and F. P. Grove in Europe and Canada: Translated Lives, the first well documented biography of the author in English. Martens' vast compilation Over Canadian Trails: F.P. Grove in New Letters and Documents includes the most extensive published collection of letters from and to Grove, including the Phelps correspondence, documents, many photographs, and much relevant commentary by the editor. This was preceded by Martens' A Dirge for My Daughter, a careful edition of selected poems by Grove which includes photographs and reproductions of handwritten letters and notes. In addition to his Grove monographs and editions, Martens published numerous articles on both Grove and Else Plötz.

In her book Sexualizing Power in Naturalism: Theodore Dreiser and Frederick Philip Grove, Irene Gammel examined the gender relationships of Grove’s fiction, focussing in particular on his sexualized (and modern) female figures and the overexposed relationships of power. Gammel also traced Grove’s relationship with Elsa Plötz (Baroness Elsa) in her biography Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada, and Everyday Modernity, documenting that the couple had been legally married and that Grove’s reasons for hiding his identity had much to do with his fear of being discovered by his former wife, the dada artist Baroness Elsa. It has also been argued, by Martens in Over Canadian Trails, perhaps more persuasively, that Greve understandably changed his identity in order to escape internment as a German national at the outbreak of the Great War.

In his essay "Felix Paul Greve, The Eulenburg Scandal, and Frederick Philip Grove," Richard Cavell proposed a queering approach to Grove’s work, while Paul Hjartarson and Tracy Kulba’s collection Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and Felix Paul Greve assembles a range of perspectives by a number of scholars, including the editors, as well as Jutta Ernst, Klaus Martens, and Paul Morris.

A great deal of research is provided by Gaby Divay at the University of Manitoba, who also edited a first edition of Grove’s poetry as her Master's thesis. See Dr. Gaby Divay’s research papers below.

Further research and portraits[edit]

FPG bibliography[edit]

Felix Paul Greve, 1901-1909

  • Wanderungen (Poems) - 1902
  • Helena und Damon (Play) - 1902
  • Gedichte/Ein Portrait: Drei Sonette/ Gedichte, Von Fanny Essler (joint pseud. for F. P. Greve & Else Endell/Freytag-Loringhoven) in Die Freistatt - 1904/5
  • Fanny Essler: ein Berliner Roman (about Else Plötz, Endell, Greve, & later von Freytag-Loringhoven) - 1905
    • Fanny Essler: a novel (Engl. Transl., 2v.) - 1984
  • Maurermeister Ihles Haus (about Else von Freytag-Loringhoven) - 1906
    • The Master Mason's House (Engl. Transl.) - 1976
  • [Der Sentimentalist (Novel) - announced ca. 1907)]
  • [Der heimliche Adel (Drama) - announced ca. 1907)]

Frederick Philip Grove, 1914-1948

  • Rousseau als Erzieher (Essay by "Fred Grove", Winkler, Manitoba) - Der Nordwesten (Winnipeg), 1914
  • Over Prairie Trails (Essays) - 1922
  • The Turn of the Year (Essays) - 1923
  • Settlers of the Marsh (Novel)- 1925
  • A Search for America (Autobiogr. Novel) - (1927
    • e-Edition with Introduction & Commentaries, UMA - 2000/5
  • Our Daily Bread (Novel) - 1928
  • It Needs to Be Said (Essays) - 1929
  • The Yoke of Life (Novel) - 1930
  • Fruits of the Earth (Novel) - 1933
  • Two Generations (Novel) - 1939
  • The Master of The Mill (Novel) - 1944
  • In Search of Myself (Autobiography) - 1946 (Won Governor General's Award)
  • Consider Her Ways (Novel) - 1947


  • Tales from the Margin (Short Stories) - 1971
  • Letters of Frederick Philip Grove (contains letters by Felix Paul Greve) - 1976
  • The Adventure of Leonard Broadus (1983, 2015)
    • Boys' novel first published in a heavily redacted version in a church magazine in the 1940s; original manuscript published in Canadian Children's Literature in 1983 and in book form in 2015[15]
  • Poems/Gedichte by/von Frederick Philip Grove, Felix Paul Greve, und 'Fanny Essler' - 1993
  • A Dirge for My Daughter, Poems by Frederick Philip Grove - 2006
  • Jane Atkinson (ts. Novel, ca. 1923) e-Edition, UMA - 2000

Related e-Editions by/about FPG (Greve/Grove)

  • "Greve's & Freytag-Loringhovens 'Fanny Essler' Poems: FPG's or Else's?" e-Edition, UMA - 2005

Grove e-Editions at Gutenberg Projects

In addition to the UMA e-Texts listed above, the following texts are provided by Don Lainson for Gutenberg Project of Australia or, in the case of Over Prairie Trails, by Project Gutenberg. The recently established Gutenberg Project Canada has, so far, only added It Needs to be Said as an original contribution in this list.

FPG (Greve/Grove) sources and research collections[edit]

The FPG (Greve/Grove) & FrL Collections Website at the University of Manitoba Archives (UMA) contain numerous big & small e-texts by/about FPG and FrL, notably:

  • A list of the FPG (Greve/Grove) Sources & Documents held at the University of Manitoba Archives
  • A description of the FPG (Greve/Grove) Sources & Documents held at the University of Manitoba Archives (based on a 1996 promotional brochure)
  • A brief history of UMA e-Projects

The Frederick Philip Grove Papers (Mss 2, 24 Boxes) contain many published and unpublished manuscripts and typescripts and six mss. German poems, which were acquired by the University of Manitoba from his widow Catherine Wiens Grove in the early 1960s.

  • An online Finding-Aid of this pivotal Collection is available on the archival websites.

Professor D. O. Spettigue's Research Papers (Mss 57, 1985 & 1995) document the sensational discovery of the FPG identity in 1971, and were added in 1986. They also include two letters Thomas Mann sent to Grove in 1939.

Professor Margaret Stobie's Collection (Mss 13) documents Grove's early teaching activities in Manitoba, and contains Grove's first Canadian publication, the sprawling article "Rousseau als Erzieher" in the German newspaper Der Nordwesten (Nov./Dec. 1914). Dr. Gaby Divay's Research Papers (Mss 12, 1986-) contain many documents pertaining to FPG & FrL discoveries such as:

  • Greve's mss. poems submitted in 1902 for publication in Stefan George's prestigious Blätter für die Kunst
  • six sonnets he translated from Dante's Vita Nuova in 1898 (both clusters were found in the Stefan-George-Archiv, Stuttgart, in May 1990, copies courtesy of Dr. Ute Oelmann)
  • Claude Martin's 1976 masterly edition of Gide's 1904 Conversation avec un allemand (with two confessional letters by Greve)
  • Centennial e-Ed. in Germ & Eng. of seven poems published in 1904/5 under the joint pseud. 'Fanny Essler' in Die Freistatt
  • Greve's passage to North America from Liverpool to Montreal in July 1909 (found shortly after the 1998 international FPG Anniversary Symposium in the Ottawa NL Archives & published in W. Pache's Festschrift, Jan. 2000)
  • the Bonanza Farm "in the Dakotas" described in A Search for America (1925) (found in March 1996 at the NDSU archives, Fargo, & video-recorded as LCMND Presidential Dinner Address in Oct. 1996)
  • Else & Greve's Sparta, Kentucky, location in 1910/11 (known ONLY from her poem "Schalk" in the University of Maryland, College Park, FrL Collection; found there in April 1991, & published in FPG's Dec. 1993 Poetry Ed. [facsim 49b, and n159])
  • two NYT articles about FPG & FrL (found in 2004 via ProQuest: Pittsburgh arrest for cross-dressing & smoking in public, Sep. 1910, and about FrL's 1915 modelling jobs in NY
  • two FrL images showing her in exotic garb & pose (found in 2006 at the Library of Congress' Bain Collection): one showing FrL alone, the other showing FrL leaning on Jamaican poet Claude McKay

FPG Book Collections: Greve's Translations & Grove's Library

The UMA hold all of Grove's and Greve's known publications. Canadian & some foreign theses are also extant in various formats.

The Grove Library & the Greve Translations Collections are available online:

  • The Grove Library Collection of some 500 titles contains many of the incredible number of books Grove translated into German when he was Greve. Most notable are perhaps certain Meredith titles, & a complete set of Temple Scott's Swift edition.
  • The FPG Translations Collection reflects a complete record of Greve's titanic efforts, 1898–1909, starting out with Dante sonnets, Oscar Wilde texts & criticism, Browning, Dowson, Pater, Meredith, Swinburne (both of whom died in 1909 when Greve chose voluntary exile), H. G. Wells, Balzac, Flaubert, & Gide, as well as all 12 v. from Burton's Arabian Nights.

"In Memoriam FPG": 1998 Anniversary Symposium The international anniversary symposium "In Memoriam FPG: 1879-1948-1998" was recorded on 12 videos. In 2007, they were digitized & became the Symposium's e-Proceedings.

FPG & FrL Endowment (1995ff) An FPG & FrL Endowment Fund devoted to FPG (Greve/Grove) & Else von Freytag-Loringhoven projects was established in 1995/96. Promotional brochures, various e-text publications, and the FPG & FrL Website above were partly or entirely funded by this endowment.

External links


  1. ^ Gammel, Irene. Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada and Everyday Modernity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002, 155
  2. ^ qtd. in Gammel, Baroness Elsa, 127.
  3. ^ Gammel, Baroness Elsa, 132.
  4. ^ Gammel, Baroness Elsa, 144.
  5. ^ See Temple Scott's edition, which is extant in Grove's Library Collection at the UMA. See also the opening pages of Grove's 1927 Search for America, which provides details that led to the discovery of FPG's transatlantic passage in October 1998, shortly after the "In Memoriam FPG: 1879-1948-1998" Symposium commemorating the 50th Anniversary of his death
  6. ^ Gammel, Baroness Elsa, 145.
  7. ^ Gammel, Baroness Elsa, 154.
  8. ^ Gammel, Baroness Elsa, 153.
  9. ^ Leonard Grove was a lawyer who lived in Toronto. He died in October 2006, just a few days shy of his 76th birthday.
  10. ^ Klassen, Henry Cornelius (1977). The Canadian West : social change and economic development. Calgary: University of Calgary Press. p. 27. 
  11. ^ Gammel, Irene. “Staging Personalities in Modernism and Realism.” Cambridge History of Canadian Literature. Ed. Coral Ann Howells and Eva-Marie Kröller. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009, 251.
  12. ^ Gammel, “Staging Personalities,” 252.
  13. ^ Gammel, “Staging Personalities,” 254.
  14. ^ Freytag-Loringhoven, Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven. Ed. Irene Gammel and Suzanne Zelazo. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011, 240-41, 380.
  15. ^ Rubio, Jen (2015). Preface to The Adventure of Leonard Broadus. Oakville, ON: Rock's Mills Press. pp. 3–6. ISBN 9781772440041. 


  • Cavell, Richard. "Felix Paul Greve, The Eulenburg Scandal, and Frederick Philip Grove," Essays on Canadian Writing 62 (1998): 12-45 (Special Issue on Paraliterary Scandals in Canada).
  • Freytag-Loringhoven, Elsa. Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven. Ed. Irene Gammel and Suzanne Zelazo. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.
  • Gammel, Irene. Sexualizing Power in Naturalism: Theodore Dreiser and Frederick Philip Grove. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 1994.
  • Gammel, Irene. Baroness Elsa: Gender, Dada and Everyday Modernity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002.
  • Gammel, Irene. “Staging Personalities in Modernism and Realism.” Cambridge History of Canadian Literature. Ed. Coral Ann Howells and Eva-Marie Kröller. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009. 247-71.