Frederick Manfred


Frederick Manfred was born Frederick Feikema on January 6, 1912, and grew up on a farm near Doon in northwestern Iowa. At six feet nine inches Manfred was the eldest and tallest of six brothers, all over six feet tall. A future literary career seemed unlikely for Manfred. His father could not read, and Manfred himself had to hide books in order to read them while working on the farm. Manfred attended the Christian Reformed Church high school, Western Academy, in Hull, Iowa. While in school Manfred excelled as a baseball pitcher and dreamed of becoming a professional player. Two years after graduating from high school, Manfred attended the Calvin College in Grand Rapids Michigan.

At Calvin College Manfred began his writing career. During his undergraduate career Manfred published seventeen poems and short stories in the yearbook and in the college newspaper, The Calvin College Chimes. After earning a B.A. and his teaching certificate in 1934 Manfred hitchhiked for two years across America.

He traveled east spending eight months in New Jersey working for U.S. Rubber and becoming involved in local politics. He then headed west, staying in Sioux Falls and visiting Yellowstone Park. These travels and his childhood provided preparation and fodder for Manfred's realistic novels and "rumes." Rumes are novels that are strongly autobiographical, where Manfred himself appears as a character.

At the end of his travels in 1937 Manfred worked as a sports reporter for The Minneapolis Journal. He was fired a couple years later, possibly due to his involvement in union organization. Shortly after this Manfred developed tuberculosis and entered Glen Lake Sanatorium in Oak Terrace, Minnesota, in April of 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. In 1943 Manfred decided to devote all of his time to writing.

This risky move worked when Manfred was given a University of Minnesota writing fellowship in 1944, and his first novel, The Golden Bowl, inspired by his hitchhiking experience, was published later that year. In 1945 after being awarded a grant-in-aid from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and having his University of Michigan writing fellowship renewed, Manfred published Boy Almighty, the rume inspired by his stay in the Minnesota sanitarium. Manfred's third novel, This Is the Year, was published in 1947 and appeared on The New York Times best-seller list for four weeks and on the New York Herald Tribune best-seller list for two weeks.

    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 comprised of the novels Lord Grizzly, Conquering Horse, Scarlet Plume, King of Spades, and Riders of Judgment.

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." Manfred died of a brain tumor in 1994.


Works by Frederick Manfred
For additional information:


Under the name Feike Feikema

The Golden Bowl, Webb Publishing, 1944, revised edition under name Frederick Manfred, South Dakota Press, 1969.

Boy Almighty, Itasca Press, 1945.

This is the Year, Doubleday, 1947, reprinted under name Frederick Manfred, Gregg, 1979.

The Chokecherry Tree, Doubleday, 1948, revised edition under name Frederick Manfred, A. Swallow, 1961.

The Primitive (first book in "World's Wanderer" trilogy), Doubleday, 1950.

The Brother (second book in "World's Wanderer" trilogy), Doubleday, 1950.

The Giant (third book in "World's Wanderer" trilogy), Doubleday, 1951.

Under the name Frederick Manfred

Lord Grizzly, McGraw, 1954.

Morning Red: A Romance, A. Swallow, 1956.

Riders of Judgment, Random House, 1957.

Conquering Horse, McDowell/Obolensky, 1959.

Arrow of Love, A. Swallow, 1961.

Wanderlust (contains revised editions of The Primitive, The Brother, and The Giant), A. Swallow, 1962.

Scarlet Plume, Trident, 1966.

The Man Who Looked Like the Prince of Whales, Trident, 1965, published as The Secret Place, Pocket Books, 1967.

King of Spades, Trident, 1966.

Winter Count: Poems, 1934-1965, James D. Thueson, 1966.

Eden Prairie, Trident, 1968.

Apples of Paradise, and Other Stories, Trident, 1968.

Lord Grizzly: The Legend of Hugh Glass (screenplay; based on his novel Lord Grizzly), University of South Dakota Libraries, 1972.

Writing in the West (recorded lecture), Everett/Edwards, 1974.

(Editor) Conversations with Frederick Manfred, moderated by John R. Milton, University of Utah Press, 1974.

The Manly Hearted Woman, Crown, 1976.

Milk of Wolves, Avenue Victor Hugo, 1976.

Green Earth, Crown, 1977.

The Wind Blows Free: A Reminiscence, Center for Western Studies, Augustana College, 1979.

Son of Adam, Crown, 1980.

Buckskin Man Tales (including Lord Grizzly, Conquering Horse, Scarlet Plume, Riders of Judgment, and King of Spades), five volumes, Gregg, 1980.

Dinkytown, Dinkytown Antiquarian Bookstore/Toothpaste Press, 1984.

Prime Fathers: Portraits, Howe Brothers, 1987.

Winter Count II: Poems, James D. Thueson, 1987.

Selected Letters of Frederick Manfred, University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

Flowers of Desire: A Novel, Dancing Badger, 1989.

No Fun on Sunday: A Novel, University of Oklahoma Press, 1990.

The Golden Bowl, South Dakota Humanities Foundation, 1992.

Of Lizards and Angels: A Saga of Siouxland, University of Oklahoma Press, 1992.

Duke's Mixture, Center for Western Studies, 1994.

The Frederick Manfred Reader, edited by John Calvin Rezmerski. Duluth, MN: Holy Cow! Press, 1996.

Bibliographical information taken from:

Huseboe, Arthur R. "Frederick Manfred (1912-1994)." In Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 212, Twentieth-Century American Writers, Second Series, edited by Richard H. Cracroft. Detroit: The Gale Group, 1999, pp. 185-97.

Contemporary Authors. Vol. 85, New Revision Series. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 2000, pp. 253-57.


Critical Annotated Bibliography about Frederick Manfred's Work

Books and chapters or entries in books

  • Harrison, Dick. "Frederick Manfred." In Fifty Western Writers, edited by Fred Erisman & Richard W. Etulain. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1982.

    This piece is separated into three sections. The first gives a brief biography. The second reviews the major themes in Manfred's work including the more traditional rural Midwestern themes in the Siouxland novels, the more Western themes in the Buckskin Man tales, and the personal themes in his rumes. The third section gives a survey of the criticism of Manfred's work. A bibliography is also included. This is a good place to start to examine Manfred's work.
  • Huseboe, Arthur R., and Nancy Owen Nelson, eds. The Selected Letters of Frederick Manfred 1932-1954. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

    This book of letters from Manfred to friends and other writers is sure to give any reader a deeper understanding of Manfred and his works. The letters cover his life during the publication of The Golden Bowl, Boy Almighty, This is the Year, The Chokecherry Tree, the World's Wanderer trilogy, and Lord Grizzly. However the introduction alone is reason enough to take a look at this piece. It not only introduces the letters contained in this book, but it also gives an overview of Manfred's life during these years. It contains brief descriptions of the relationship Manfred had with some of the persons to whom he wrote, his experiences in publishing these first works and the critics' responses to them, and his name change. It is useful in obtaining a better understanding of Manfred's life.
  • Flora, Joseph M. Frederick Manfred. Boise: Boise State University Western Writers Series 13, 1974.

    This fifty-two page pamphlet gives the reader a glimpse into the life and works of Frederick Manfred from The Golden Bowl to Apples of Paradise up to the early 1970s. It gives some early biographical information and discusses how Manfred entered into his literary career. Flora gives his view of some of the common themes of Manfred's work, and also gives character and plot summaries. The pamphlet is mostly organized chronologically as Manfred's pieces were published, but there is overlap as Flora compares and contrasts the novels. Readers looking for specific information about a Manfred work may not find it here, but this pamphlet is a clear, concise overview of many of his books.
  • Manfred, Freya. Frederick Manfred: A Daughter Remembers. Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1999.

    Freya Manfred writes about the Manfred household and life, especially the period immediately preceding her father's death. She explores her relationship with her father, including the changes as her own literary career developed. She describes a moving portrayal of a family struggling to help a parent face death with dignity.
  • Mulder, Rodney J. and John H. Timmerman, eds. Frederick Manfred: A Bibliography and Publishing History. Sioux Falls, SD: Center for Western Studies, Augustana College, 1981.

    A comprehensive list of works by and about Manfred up to 1980. Also contains a narrative interview at the end.
  • Nelson, Nancy Owen. "Frederick Manfred: Bard of Siouxland." In Prairie Frontier, edited by Sandra Looney, Arthur R. Huseboe, and Geoffrey Hunt. Sioux Falls: S.D.: The Nordland Heritage Foundation, 1984, pp. 53-75.

    This piece explores how Manfred's Scandinavian heritage influenced his writing and his impression of Siouxland. It focuses on three novels, The Golden Bowl, This is the Year, and The Chokecherry Tree.
  • Nelson, Nancy Owen. "Frederick Manfred." In Updating the Literary West, edited by Thomas J. Lyon. Western Literary Association. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1997, pp. 693-700.

    This very short piece comments on some of Manfred's later works. It discusses how he evolved as a writer, and how his later works return to and reinforce some of the Midwestern themes of his earlier novels. An extensive bibliography is also included.
  • Nelson, Nancy Owen, ed. The Lizard Speaks: Essays on the Writings of Frederick Manfred. Sioux Falls: Center for Western Studies, Augustana College, 1998.

    This collection contains nineteen essays, both new and reprinted about the main body of Manfred's novels from The Golden Bowl (1944) to Of Lizards and Angels (1992). It also contains a list of Manfred's books.
  • Quantic, Diane Dufva. The Nature of the Place: A Study of Great Plains Fiction. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1997.

    Quantic discusses Frederick Manfred and other Great Plains writers.

Selected Articles

  • Bebeau, Donald. "A Search for Voice, a Sense of Place in The Golden Bowl." South Dakota Review 7 (Winter 1969-70): 79-87.

    This is a short exploration of place in The Golden Bowl. The article describes the book as a quest for the protagonist with the elements as antagonists. There are some interesting closing comments on regional literature, and on the way Manfred's experiences in Siouxland shaped his work.
  • Huseboe, Arthur R. "Frederick Manfred (1912-1994)." In Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 212, Twentieth-Century American Writers, Second Series, edited by Richard H. Cracroft. Detroit: The Gale Group, 1999, pp. 185-97.

    This piece begins with a listing of Manfred's works. It then goes on to describe Manfred's career and life with descriptions of his novels and their critical reception. This is a good selection for studying Manfred's publishing career.
  • Wright, Robert C. "Frederick Manfred." In A Literary History of the American West, edited by Thomas J. Lyon. Western Literary Association. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1987.

    This article intersperses information about Manfred's life and career with literary criticism. It explores how the land influenced Manfred's writing, and how the territory he named Siouxland is involved in his work. This is a good piece in exploring Manfred's writing and how a sense of place fits into his work.
  • South Dakota Review 38.3 (Fall 2000).

    This journal, subtitled "Celebrating Frederick Manfred," contains short personal essays, poetry, fiction, and a longer critical essay all in remembrance of Manfred. The journal also contains two reprints of interviews with Manfred. The first, conducted in 1964, is particularly interesting as Manfred gives his views of the American West, and the western novel. There is also an excerpt from a talk he gave at the 1992 Dakota Writing Project Summer Institute that covers in brief Manfred's views on his childhood, science and the nature of time, the art of writing and teaching, his own writing, the presidency, and other authors. The longer critical essay, by Nancy Owen Wilson, is on the influence of the land and the idea of timelessness in Manfred's work. It also discusses her collection of essays on Manfred, The Lizard Speaks: Essays on the Writings of Frederick Manfred, as well as the book by Manfred's daughter, Freya, titled Frederick Manfred: A Daughter Remembers. Also included in this edition of the journal are pictures of Manfred. This journal is good for anyone who wants to learn more about Frederick Manfred.


  • Frederick Manfred: American Grizzly. St. Paul: The CIE, 1983.

    In this video Frederick Manfred discusses his life and his writing and reads excerpts from his novels.