Over Prairie Trails recalls Grove’s solitary and often perilous journeys by horse and wagon over 30-odd miles of Manitoba countryside that separated him and his wife during a year of hardship. Grove brings before the reader’s eye a landscape by turns magical and menacing, whose ever-changing moods demand of the traveller the utmost courage, resourcefulness, and endurance.
Published in 1922, this memoir assured Frederick Philip Grove a place among the pioneers of Canadian realism.
Frederick Philip Grove was born Felix Paul Grove at Radomno in West Prussia (now a part of Poland) in 1879. Raised in Hamburg and educated at the University of Bonn and later at the University of Munich, he began his career as a poet and translator into German of many English and French writers, including Balzac, Flaubert, Gide, Swift, and Wilde. His first novel, Fanny Essler, appeared in 1905; his second, Maurermeister Ihle’s Haus (Mastermason Ihle’s House), in the following year. He left Germany in 1909 for the United States.
In 1912, under the new name of Frederick Philip Grove, he began teaching school in Manitoba, and continued in that profession until 1924.
Grove’s first book in English, Over Prairie Trails, is a sequence of seven sketches of his weekly trips through the Manitoba countryside. His first novel in English, Settlers of the Marsh, establishes the essentially tragic pattern of his fiction, the heroic pioneers who seek domestic and material happiness but seldom realize their goals.
Grove’s autobiography, In Search of Myself, begins with a fictitious account of his early life in Europe and moves on to a largely accurate presentation of his life in Canada.
In 1929 Grove left Manitoba to accept a job with a publishing firm in Ottawa. In 1931 he settled on a farm near Simcoe, Ontario, where he spent the final years of his life.
Frederick Philip Grove died in Simcoe, Ontario, in 1948.