Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008

Is It Grove or Greve?

Possibly the least culpable fraud on this list, Frederick Philip Grove was born Felix Paul Greve in what is now Poland. A student of the classic philosophers at Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Germany, Grove left the university to write poetry and verse, none of which were well received. He spent a year in prison for unspecified fraud; after his release he found that his work hadn't become any more acclaimed. He fled Germany, traveled for a while and ended up in Canada where he became a successful author under his slightly altered name, producing several novels about life on the prairie in his newfound home. It was when he tried to create a wholly fabricated background for himself (as a Swedish aristocrat, no less) in the partly autobiographical works A Search for America and In Search of Myself that Grove got in trouble, although not while he was around to see it. The books raised flags in the 1960s — more than 20 years after Grove's death — when D.O. Spettigue's investigation Frederick Philip Grove called into question the truthfulness of his account.