Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Frank Norris  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: March 5, 1870 in Chicago, Illinois

Died: October 25, 1902 in San Francisco, California (32 years of age)

-- Frank Norris on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Norris was born in Chicago and lived there until he was 14.

Biographical and Professional Information

Frank Norris was a naturalist who attempted in his sweeping fictional canvases to depict the impact of large, impersonal social and economic forces on individual lives. He is best known for McTeague (1899) and his uncompleted trilogy, The Epic of Wheat, which was to trace the impact of the wheat industry on society. The first volume, The Octopus (1901), deals with the conflict between wheatgrowers and the railroads in California. The Pit (1903), set in Chicago, is about wheat speculation on the Board of Trade. Norris' premature death kept him from completing the trilogy with The Wolf, about the flow of wheat to Europe to relieve famine.

Published Works

  • McTeague, 1899 - reprinted by Penguin Group in 2003 and Dover Publications, 2004
  • A Man's Woman, 1900
  • The Octopus, 1901 - reprinted by Penguin Group in 1994
  • The Pit, 1903
  • Vandover and the Brute, 1914
  • Moran of the Lady Letty, 1918

Selected Titles At Your Library

ISBN: 1595477721. OCLC Number:

Pharos Editions,. New York :. 2013.

First published in 1899, this graphic depiction of urban American life centers around McTeague, a?dentist" practicing in San Francisco at the turn of the century. While at first content with his life and friendship with an ambitious man named Marcus, McTeague eventually courts and marries Trina, a parsimonious young woman who wins a large sum of money in a lottery. It is not long before the jealousy and avarice of the majority of the characters in the novel sets off a chain of inevitable and increasingly horrific events. Norris' work, so strikingly different from that of his contempora.


  • Name engraved on the frieze of the Illinois State Library alongside other great Illinois literary figures, 1990