Frederick Schiller Faust (May 29, 1892 - May 12, 1944) was an American fiction author known primarily for his thoughtful and literary Westerns. Faust wrote mostly under pen names, and today is primarily known by one, Max Brand. Others include George Owen Baxter, George Evans, David Manning, John Frederick, Peter Morland, George Challis, and Frederick Frost.
Faust was born in Seattle to Gilbert Leander Faust and Elizabeth (Uriel) Faust, who both died soon after. 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 prolifically for student publications, poetry magazines, and occasionally newspapers. He did not attain a degree, as he was deemed a troublemaker, and began to travel extensively. He joined the Canadian Army in 1915, but deserted the next year and went to New York City.
During the 1910s, Faust started to sell stories to the pulp magazines of Frank Munsey, including All-Story Weekly and Argosy Magazine. When the United States joined World War I in 1917, Faust tried to enlist but was turned down. 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 in fiction published under various pen names, with often two serials and a short novel 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, however, a constant source of inspiration for his fiction and his classical and literary inclinations are perhaps part of the reason for his success at genre fiction. The classical influences are certainly noticeable in his stories, many of which would inspire films. He created the Western character Destry, featured in several filmed versions of Destry Rides Again, and his character Dr. Kildare was adapted to motion pictures, radio, television, and comic books.
Beginning in 1934 Faust began publishing fiction in upscale slick magazines that paid better than pulp magazines. He was one of the highest paid writers of that time. Ironically, Faust disparaged his commercial success and used his own name only for the poetry that he regarded as his true vocation.