Frederic Philip Grove (a.k.a Felix Paul Greve) (1879-1948)
Someone make a movie about FPG!
FPG (as he is refered to in the literary world thanks to his oh-so-clever alias
) was a writer, primarily famous in Canada
for his Prairie Realist fiction
, which he wrote after immigrating to Manitoba
around 1912. But this guy's own life as it turns out, was way more interesting than any story he ever wrote.
Before 1973, this was what Canadian English literature University professors told their students about FPG:
Grove was born into an upper-class Swedish family, his mother being of Scottish origins. Due to financial problems, Grove was forced to leave Europe and seek a living in North America. He moved to Manitoba in 1912 and became one of the founders of the "Prairie Realism" school/genre. He was a well known author throughout North America. Grove published about 15 books between 1922 an 1947. Apart from his prairie novels, his biggest success were his autobiographical writings A Search for America (1927) and In Search of Myself (1946). For In Search of Myself Grove received Canada's renowned "Governor General's Award" for "non-fiction" in the year it was published.
* * * * *
In october 1971 a shocking discovery was made by scholar Douglas O. Spettigue (no I did not make that name up) that Frederic Philip Grove was in fact a man named Felix Paul Greve. Greve was a writer from Europe, yes, but one with a much more colourful past than that fabricated by FPG, and a man who had supposedly died in 1909. This was Felix Paul Greve's story:
FPG is born on February 14, 1879, at Radomno, West Prussia. He is from a pretentious middle class family, who send him to the best schools they can. He attends the university at Bonn, and in October of 1902, settles in Berlin working as a writer and translator. Here, he befriends August Endell, a Jugendstil architect of some growing renown, and it is during frequent afternoon teas that he becomes attracted to Endell's wife Else. He writes to her often, while she is staying in a sanitorium and sends her his translation of Oscar Wilde's comedy The Importance of Being Earnest. By Christmas, Else and Greve are lovers.
In January 1903, the doubly betrayed Endell accompanies the adulterous pair to Hamburg and to Palermo by steamer. He is left behind in Naples with a consolation bicycle.
In May 1903 Greve travels to Bonn on business. Here, he is arrested on arrival, tried, and sentenced to one year in prison for defrauding his University friend Herman Kilian of 10 thousand marks, which he has used to galavant around Europe like the aristocrat he isn't.
While in prison, he pursues his translating career fairly successfully. After his release he and Else pick up where they left off and move to Wollerau near Zürich in Switzerland, where they remain until mid-1905. In 1909, having moved back to Berlin with Else, Felix Paul Greve successfully fakes his own suicide.
Else "Greve" sends a distraught note to the director of his publishing firm on Friday, September 17, 1909. On Tuesday, September 19, the director elegantly defends himself and his establishment against charges of having pushed Greve over the edge by overworking, underpaying and unjustly criticizing FPG's translations. He also brings to light the fact that Greve had recently double-sold one of his latest translations, and implies that this might have been a compelling reason for Greve's disappearance.
It is later discovered that Else followed FPG to North America soon after his disappearance. She lives with him for some time in Kentucky before FPG moves North and becomes Frederic Philip Grove.
* * * * *
The best part of this whole wacky story, is that FPG got away with so much. He barely had to try to disguise himself. I mean he even kept the same initials - and apparently he had an atrocious Sweedish accent. And to top it all off, he gets an award for his "non-fiction" autobiography, which turns out is complete and utter bullshit! Gotta love the guy no matter how boring Fruits of the Earth was.