Frank Herbert

American Author

Franklin Patrick Herbert Jr. is an American author famous for ‘Dune,’ a book pivotal to the world of science fiction.

Frank was awed by the desert encroachment in Florence, Oregon, when he visited the city to write an article on the dunes causing a disaster since the 1920s. However, he became over-involved and gathered more raw materials than he needed for the story, which he eventually never wrote.


Life Facts

  • Frank Herbert was born on October 8, 1920, in Tacoma, Washington. He died on February 11, 1986.
  • Frank Herbert was married thrice. The first was to Lilian Parkinson in 1941. His second wife was Beverly Ann Stuart, who died in 1983, and his third wife was Theresa Diane Shackelford, who he married in 1985, one year before his death.
  • Frank Herbert had three children with two of his wives, and his son Brian Herbert eventually continued the ‘Dune’ saga as Frank had passed away before he could complete the series.

Interesting Facts

  • ‘Dune’ is the most-sold science fiction novel in history.
  • Frank Herbert’s first novel ‘Dune,’ was rejected many times.
  • The ‘Dune’ franchise consists of more than 34 novels and short stories to which Frank Herbert wrote only seven.
  • Frank Herbert wrote other stories like ‘The White Plague,’ ‘Destination Void,’ ‘The Jesus Incident,’ ‘The Lazarus Effect,’ ‘The Ascension Factor,’ ‘The Dosadi Experiment,’ ‘Whipping Star,’ and ‘Eye.’


Famous Books by Frank Herbert

Dune was the book that propelled Frank Herbert’s career. The book tells the story of a dystopian world 10,000 years into the future when humanity transcended from the era of thinking machines to an age of interstellar travel. With the discovery of Melange, a drug-like substance that gives its taker youth and enhanced metal capabilities, the noble houses which were in charge of respective planetary fiefs under the rule of the Emperor struggled for power and control over the precious commodity.

After Paul Atreides’s father gets killed because of Melange, he escapes into the desert with his mother, Jessica, where he meets the Fremen, inhabitants of Arrakis, the only known planet with Melange. After Paul discovers he has superpowers, he decides to take back the throne from the Emperor, who partly had a hand in his father’s death.

Dune Messiah is the second book in the ‘Dune’ series, and it takes off from where ‘Dune’ stopped. After ascending the throne, Paul Atreides’s powers increase, and with his enhanced sight, he discovers the conspiracy of the noble houses and members of his circle to bring him down. However, Paul fails to see the threat that will befall his lover, Chani; this makes Paul realize he had lost his clairvoyance after having an accident.

Children of Dune takes off from where ‘Dune Messiah’ stopped, and the book focuses on the story of Paul’s twins, Leto II and Ghanima after their father disappeared into the desert a blind man. With their powers awakened in the womb, Leto II and his sister begin their journey to try and save the sandworms on Arrakis and realize their father’s dream for the universe.


Early Life

Frank Herbert was born to Frank Patrick Herbert Sr and Eileen (nee McCarthy) Herbert in 1920. As a young child, Frank had an undying passion for reading and could read the newspaper since the early age of five. Having an excellent memory and ability to learn quickly, Frank Herbert became fascinated by photography. He bought a Kodak box camera at the age of 10 and a color film camera in the 1930s.

Due to the great depression, Frank Herbert ran from home for his uncle’s place in Salem, Oregon, where he attended high school and graduated the following year. Soon after leaving high school, Frank lied about his age to get a job at the Glendale Star, and in 1940 he moved back to Salem, where he worked for the Oregon Statesman newspaper. In 1941, Frank married Flora Lillian Parkinson, and they both had a daughter, who they named Penelope.

In 1942, Frank was enlisted in the military as the United States had joined the second world war. He served in the Navy’s Seabees, where he worked as a photographer for six months. However, after an accidental head injury, Frank was medically discharged from the Navy and moved to Portland, Oregon, where he worked for The Oregon Journal.

Frank Herbert enrolled at the University of Washington, where he met his future wife, Beverly Ann Stuart, and on June 20, 1946, they were married. Frank and Beverly had two sons, Brian and Bruce. Frank never graduated from the University of Washington, as he stated he never wanted to learn what did not interest him.


Literary Career

Frank Herbert’s writing career began in 1952 after his first science fiction story ‘Looking for Something,’ was published in April 1952. Three of Frank Herbert’s stories were published in 1954 issues of Astounding Science Fiction and Amazing stories. In 1955, Frank’s career as a novelist began after the publication of ‘Under Pressure‘ in Astounding, which Doubleday issued as a book called ‘The Dragon in the Sea.’

In 1959, Frank Herbert began his research for ‘Dune,’ and devoted all of his time to the book. Frank Herbert took six years researching and creating ‘Dune.’ Throughout the book creation, Frank was unemployed, and Beverly worked full-time as the breadwinner for the family. Finally, in 1965, Frank successfully published ‘Dune.’ Soon, the book became a massive hit, spearheading the ‘Dune’ franchise.


Literature by Frank Herbert

Explore literature by Frank Herbert below, created by the team at Book Analysis.