Krause, Herbert (Arthur) 1905-1976

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KRAUSE, Herbert (Arthur) 1905-1976

PERSONAL: Born May 25, 1905, in Fergus Falls, MN; died September 22, 1976, in Sioux Falls, SD; son of Arthur Adolph (a farmer and blacksmith) and Bertha (Peters) Krause. Education: St. Olaf College, B.A., 1933; University of Iowa, M.A., 1935. Politics: Independent.

CAREER: University of Iowa, Iowa City, instructor in English, 1938-39; Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD, professor of English, 1939-76, chair of department, 1939-45, writer-in-residence, 1945-76, director of Center for Western Studies, 1970-76. Fulbright lecturer at University of Witwatersrand and University of Natal, 1961; Rockefeller visiting professor at University of the Philippines, 1966-69; lecturer at American universities, and for National Audubon Society, 1963.

MEMBER: Western History Association, Western Literature Association (member of executive council, 1971-74), Champlain Society, Hudson's Bay Record Society, South Dakota History Society, Wisconsin Historical Society, Minnesota Historical Society, South Dakota Ornithologists' Union (president, 1958-59; member of board of directors, 1960-65).

AWARDS, HONORS: Bread Loaf Writers' Conference fellowship, 1937; Friends of American Writers Award, 1939, for Wind without Rain; American Association for the Advancement of Science grant to compile the literature of South Dakota ornithology, 1958; various commissions to write commemorative poems, including one for Minnesota Statehood Centennial, 1958; Litt.D., Augustana College, 1970.


Bondsman to the Hills (play), first produced in Cape Girardeau, MO, at the Midwestern Folk Drama Tournament, April 4, 1936.

Wind without Rain (novel), Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1939.

Neighbor Boy (poems), Midland House (Iowa City, IA), 1939.

The Thresher (novel), Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1945.

The Oxcart Trail (novel), Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1954.

Myth and Reality on the High Plains, St. Olaf College (Northfield, MN), 1962.

The Big Four (television documentary), 1962.

Ornithology of the Great Plains, Art Press, 1964.

The Canada Warbler, Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), 1965.

The Half-Horse Alligator, University of the Philippines Press (Manila, Philippines), 1968.

The McCown's Longspur: A Life History, Benipayo (Manila, Philippines), 1968.

(Editor and author of afterword) Fiction 151-1: Short Stories, MDB Publishing (Manila, Philippines), 1968.

(Editor, with Gary Olson) Prelude to Glory: A Newspaper Accounting of Custer's 1874 Expedition to the Black Hills, Brevet Press (Sioux Falls, SD), 1974.

Poems and Essays of Herbert Krause, edited by Arthur R. Huseboe, Center for Western Studies, Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD), 1990.

Crazy Horse: A Drama of the Plains Indians and the Black Hills (play), first produced in Sioux Falls, SD, at the Center for Western Studies, June 20, 1994.

Contributor to The Bird Watcher's America, edited by Olin Sewall Pettingill, McGraw (New York, NY), 1965; and to Bent's Life Histories of North American Birds. Work represented in periodicals, including Living Bird and Chicago Sun Book Week. Regional editor, National Audubon Society Field Notes, 1958-60.

SIDELIGHTS: Herbert Krause established a literary reputation on the strength of his three novels and various pieces of poetry, all of which reflected life in the harsh prairie environments of the American West. His novels explored life on prairie farms in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and his poetry and nonfiction celebrated the natural beauties of an otherwise demanding environment. In Twentieth-Century Western Writers, Kristoffer F. Paulson characterized Krause as "a poet of dark reality and 'shadow-haunted' beauty."

Krause's first novel, Wind without Rain, was published in 1939, the same year the author began his long association with Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Set on a farm along the Minnesota-South Dakota border at the turn of the century, Wind without Rain follows the harsh and difficult life of Franz Vildvogel, a sensitive young man whose artistic tendencies are stifled by his strict family and the demands of farming. "This first novel presents a bleak and dramatic story so vigorously and cunningly that it leaves behind a singular sense of veracity and power," wrote Iris Barry in Books. According to John Mair in New Statesman & Nation, the book "is highly impressive, and though any isolated page may seem over-written, its culminating effect is undeniably moving. Mr. Krause presents his characters as wholly of a piece with their environment, and sees their toils and wild junketings . . . as almost animal reflexes to their conditions of life." Wallace Stegner commended the work in the Saturday Review of Literature as "one of the best first novels in a good many years."

Nearly a decade passed before Krause published his second novel, The Thresher, another grim story of frontier life. Johnny Black, an orphaned farm boy, becomes obsessed with cornering the threshing business in his community, with tragic results for himself and for his wife. "The reader of 'The Thresher' . . . is immediately impressed by the language in which the book is written," declared J. T. Frederick in the Chicago Sun Book Week. "Krause is a poet, and he loves and uses words as a poet does." Nancy Groberg Chaikin offered a similar view in the Saturday Review of Literature: "Mr. Krause's characters are vivid, strong, absorbing," the critic wrote. "We are consumed with a kind of ambivalent attitude, an attitude which understands and loves these people even as it acknowledges their injustices and hates for them....The writing is as powerful as the forces with which it deals—each word obviously loved and carefully chosen, each phrase adding to a total surging, poetic effect."

The Oxcart Trail follows the fortunes of Minnesota pioneers of the 1840s as they settle along the Red River. Although Paulson declared the novel to be "structurally faulty and thematically uncertain," Walter Havighurst in the Chicago Sunday Tribune found the book to be "a serious and substantial historical novel in which the carefully researched background is more memorable than the characters." As James Gray noted in the New York Herald Tribune Book Review, Krause "has put together in his long, highly readable book, hundreds of small incidents which reveal what is probably a close approximation of the truth."

In 1974 Krause published Prelude to Glory: A Newspaper Accounting of Custer's 1874 Expedition to the Black Hills, a gathering of the newspaper reports filed by journalists who accompanied General George Custer into the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1874. The expedition was for scientific purposes, but the enthusiastic reports written by the newspapermen stirred a gold rush in the region, leading to trouble with the Sioux Indians and to Custer's eventual death in battle at the Little Bighorn. Carl R. Baldwin of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the book "a masterpiece of sorts, in the words of the reporters, scientists and military men who participated in the 'scientific foray' into the sacred land of the Sioux and Cheyenne."

According to Arthur R. Huseboe, writing in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, "Krause's work on Prelude to Glory was closely related to the creation of the Center for Western Studies at Augustana College, which he had founded in part to increase the publication of important books about the northern plains. Throughout his teaching career at the college . . . Krause set his mind on encouraging his students to tell the stories of the people who settled the West and of the Native Americans whom they met there. Thus, in 1970, approximately thirty-one years after Krause started teaching at the college, he established the center with the support of several colleagues and the Board of Regents at Augustana. Upon his death of a stroke on 22 September 1976, Krause—who had never married—bequeathed his modest estate and his thirty-thousand-volume library to the center. A place devoted to interpreting and preserving the history and cultures of the northern prairie plains, the Center for Western Studies signified a project that in Krause's final years was as vital to him as his career as a writer of the American West."

Krause once told CA that his most important motivation was the "conflict between great talent or beauty (the artistic, for instance) and destructive circumstance, whether in human life or in the intrusion of thoughtless humanity upon unspoiled environments."



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 256: Twentieth-Century Western Writers, Third Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.

Dunmire, Raymond Veryl, compiler, The Herbert Krause Collection Bibliography, two volumes, Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD), 1974.

Huseboe, Arthur R., and William Geyer, editors, Where the West Begins: Essays on Middle Border and Siouxland Writing, in Honor of Herbert Krause, Center for Western Studies Press (Sioux Falls, SD), 1978.

Huseboe, Arthur R., Herbert Krause, Boise State University (Boise, ID), 1985.

Lyon, Thomas J., editor, A Literary History of the American West, Texas Christian University Press (Fort Worth, TX), 1987.

Meyer, Roy W., The Middle Western Farm Novel in the Twentieth Century, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1965.

Twentieth-Century Western Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991.


Books, February 12, 1939, Iris Barry, review of Wind without Rain, p. 5.

Chicago Sun Book Week, January 19, 1947, J. T. Frederick, review of The Thresher, p. 4.

Chicago Sunday Tribune, April 4, 1954, Walter Havighurst, review of The Oxcart Trail, p. 5.

New Republic, March 8, 1939, p. 144.

New Statesman & Nation, July 15, 1939, John Mair, review of Wind without Rain, p. 90.

New Yorker, February 11, 1939, p. 81; January 18, 1947, p. 93.

New York Herald Tribune Book Review, January 12, 1947, Walter Havighurst, "Driving Force on the Prairie," p. 4; April 4, 1954, James Gray, "Liquor, Love and Brawling on the Long Road Westward," p. 5.

New York Times, February 12, 1939, Margaret Wallace, "Wind without Rain and Other Recent Works of Fiction," p. 6; April 11, 1954, p. 25.

Saturday Review of Literature, February 11, 1939, Wallace Stegner, "A Strong Novel of the Minnesota Land," p. 5; February 8, 1947, Nancy Groberg Chaikin, "A Man's Drive for Power," p. 12.

South Dakota Review, spring, 1967, Judith M. Janssen, "Black Frost in Summer: Central Themes in the Novels of Herbert Krause," pp. 55-65.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 25, 1974, Carl R. Baldwin, "What Custer Was After," p. 4B.

Times Literary Supplement, July 15, 1939, p. 419.*