Frederick Schiller Faust (May 29, 1892 – May 12, 1944) was an American author known primarily for his thoughtful and literary Westerns under the pen name Max Brand. His other pseudonyms include George Owen Baxter, Evan Evans, George Evans, David Manning, John Frederick, Peter Morland, George Challis, and Frederick Frost.
Faust was born in Seattle to Gilbert Leander Faust and Louisa Elizabeth (Uriel) Faust, both of whom died when Faust was still a boy. He grew up in central California, and later worked as a cowhand on one of the many ranches of the San Joaquin Valley. Faust attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he began to write for student publications, poetry magazines, and newspapers. Failing to graduate, Faust joined the Canadian Army in 1915, but deserted the next year and moved to New York City.
During the 1910s, Faust sold stories to the pulp magazines of Frank Munsey, including All-Story Weekly and Argosy Magazine. When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Faust tried to enlist but was rejected. He married Dorothy Schillig in 1917, and the couple had three children.
In the 1920s, Faust wrote extensively for pulp magazines, especially Street & Smith’s Western Story Magazine, a weekly for which he would write over a million words a year under various pen names, often seeing two serials and a short novel published in a single issue. In 1921, he suffered a severe heart attack, and for the rest of his life suffered from chronic heart disease.
His love for mythology was a constant source of inspiration for his fiction, and it has been speculated that these classical influences accounted in some part for his success as a popular writer. Many of his stories would later inspire films. He created the Western character Destry, featured in several cinematic versions of Destry Rides Again, and his character Dr. Kildare was adapted to motion pictures, radio, television, and comic books.
In 1934 Faust began to write for upscale, slick magazines, often writing from a villa in Italy. In 1938, due to political events in Europe, he returned with his family to the United States and settled in Hollywood where he worked as a screenwriter for a number of film studios. At one point, Warner Brothers paid him $3,000 a week (a year’s salary for an average worker at the time), and he made a fortune from MGM’s Dr. Kildare adaptions. Faust became one of the highest paid writers of his day. Ironically, Faust disparaged his commercial success and used his real name only for the poetry that he regarded as his literary calling.
When World War II began, Faust insisted on doing his part, and despite being well into middle age and having a heart condition, managed to become a front line war correspondent. Soldiers with whom he served reportedly enjoyed having this popular author among them. While traveling with American soldiers fighting in Italy in 1944, Faust was mortally wounded by shrapnel. He was personally commended for bravery by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Historian Arthur Herman recommends his book Fighter Squadron at Guadalcanal with enthusiasm (New York Post, June 2, 2012).
"Kildare Creator Is Killed In Italy," by Milton Bracker, The New York Times, May 17, 1944.
"A Farewell To Max Brand," by Steve Fisher, published simultaneously in Argosy and Writer's Digest, in their August 1944 issues.
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