1. The Heritage and Tasks of Mormon Biography

By David J. Whittaker

Whittaker, David J., “The Heritage and Tasks of Mormon Biography,” in Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985), 1–16.

The Heritage and Tasks of Mormon Biography

David J. Whittaker


David J. Whittaker was archivist of the Mormon experience at Brigham Young University when this was published. He received his BA from Brigham Young University and his MA from California State University at Northridge. He received his PhD from Brigham Young University. He has published widely in Church periodicals and professional journals.


“The historian,” wrote Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy of Columbia University, “is the physician of memory.” [1] Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, also of Columbia University, has suggested that it would be more accurate to call the historian a pathologist of memory, pointing out that the collective memory of any group does not depend entirely on the work of historians. [2] But we cannot ignore the potential that written history and biography have for helping us all to claim and relate to a common heritage, a claim that seems to be directly related to the establishment of our individual and group identities.

The Hebrew word for memory is zakhor, and its use in ancient Israel implied that not everything is worth remembering. But it also implied that to forget that which is worth remembering is a dangerous thing. Moses commanded the Israelites to “remember” what great things the Lord had done in delivering them from the captivity of Egypt (e.g., Deuteronomy 32:7–47). Alma, a record keeper in the Book of Mormon, justified his efforts at record keeping by saying that “it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls” (Alma 37:8). Thus, the prophets and record keepers in ancient Israel and in the Book of Mormon taught that “to remember” was a critically important part of the religious life of both the group and of the individuals composing the group.

As was ancient Israel’s theology, Mormonism is grounded in specific historical events. Joseph Smith’s first vision and the visits of such individuals as Moroni, Peter, James and John, and Elijah to early leaders are for Mormons what the events leading to the Exodus were for Israel. And, like ancient Israel, Mormons have not been entirely dependent upon historians to help them relate to or become part of this heritage. For it is primarily through recital and ritual that both groups relate to a common heritage of sacred events. [3] Thus, it was in covenant-making experiences that each person was tied into the larger scheme of things and given a set of values to assist in the task of deciding what was worth “remembering.” For both groups, the keeping of records and the remembering of the past is a central part of their religious life. For both, to forget is a form of apostasy, and to be removed from the records of the group is true banishment because it means one is literally cut off from the source of one’s identity.

On 6 April 1830, the day The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, Joseph Smith received a revelation for those gathered for the occasion. It commanded that a record be kept of the activities of the group (see D&C 21:1). In time a specific individual was assigned to oversee this task. By 1831 the assignment had transferred to John Whitmer who was specifically told to “write and keep a regular history” (D&C 47:1). Later that same year, John Whitmer was told that he should continue “writing and making a history of all the important things which he shall observe and know concerning my church” and further that he should travel among the various branches of the Church “that he may the more easily obtain knowledge-Preaching and expounding, writing, copying, selecting, and obtaining all things which shall be for the good of the church, and for the rising generations that shall grow up on the land of Zion” (D&C 69:3, 7–8). About one year later, Joseph Smith wrote to William W. Phelps in Missouri, specifically counseling that the duty of the clerk in the Church was “to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, . . . their manner of life, their faith, and works” (D&C 85:1–2).

Thus, from the beginning in 1830, a variety of records, both institutional and personal, have been kept—works that both encouraged and edified members. [4] In fact, the major historical record-keeping project during the Prophet’s lifetime, the “History of Joseph Smith,” was a blend of both biography and institutional history. In many ways, it became a model for other similar works in Mormonism. While not constituting Joseph Smith’s personal diary, the “History” did gain its focus by placing Joseph at the center, occasionally citing from his personal diaries and then surrounding these quotes with various documents generated by the Church over which he presided. Throughout the work, there was a marriage of history and biography, although the institutional history of the group was the major focus. [5]

Mormon biography has continued to be a blend of biography and institutional history. Emphasis on the latter has generally forced the former into a secondary role. The reasons for this lie, in part, in the emphasis on group memory wherein the interests and experiences of the community are primary and those of the individual are secondary. Thus, with the exception of a few individuals (usually the prophets and Apostles of the Church), most of Mormon biography has not focused on the common members. But at least one other reason can account for this emphasis-the influence that biography in western culture in general has exerted on Mormon writing. Much of what we expect of biography comes from both sacred and secular traditions. Biography in western culture has looked to both the scriptures and to secular sources as models for writing the lives of its heroes and villains, its saints, and its devils.

The model for secular biography was firmly established by Plutarch, a man whom many consider to be the father of classical biography. [6] In his Paralleled Lives of Noble Greeks and

Romans, he provided the biographies of forty-six statesmen, rulers, and heroes. They were men of action who held important positions within their communities. Plutarch, as one scholar has noted, emphasized their positions rather than their personalities. [7] Biographies written by Tacitus and Suetonius continued this tradition by looking at the leaders of Roman society.

Plutarch’s influence declined after his own time (until the Renaissance), but his biographical model was felt. However, as the leaders of society were more and more religious personalities, biography tended to move more from secular to religious models and subjects. Thus, biographies of bishops, saints, and martyrs became the main fare for writers. Here, too, the facts became less important than the moral lessons that the life of a given person could teach. In the extreme, the stories sounded the same as the biographies became standardized. There was apparently only one way a writer could portray a saint! By the fifteenth century, because the moral emphasis of the Middle Ages was firmly established, most biographies “sought by eloquence to teach men virtue and to stimulate them to right conduct.” [8] Throughout these developments, the position of a given individual was more important than the various real dimensions of his life. From this emphasis on position developed the “gesta,” a work which described the lives of certain officeholders. [9] The product was an institutional biography, not the biography of a distinct individual.

It was not until the Renaissance, with its rediscovery of classical literature, that biographers began to emphasize individuals as the proper subjects for biography. [10] The earlier models did not disappear, however, and biography has been a mix of classical, medieval, and more modern approaches ever since.

In addition to classical biography, another important influence on our understanding of biography has been English biography and its Puritan derivatives. English biography reached its greatest heights in the publication of James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), a height that some argue has never been equaled. Johnson, himself, was an ideal subject, keeping a good account of his life and thinking about the craft of biography in ways that sound very modern. Consider his comments published in 1750:

But biography has often been allotted to writers who seem very little acquainted with the nature of their task, or very negligent about the performance. They rarely afford any other account than might be collected from public papers, but imagine themselves writing a life when they exhibit a chronological series of actions or preferments; and so little regard the manners or behavior of their heroes, that more knowledge may be gained of a man’s real character, by a short conversation with one of his servants, than from a formal and studied narrative, begun with his pedigree and ended with his funeral. [11]

Most scholars agree that Boswell’s biography reveals all the major ingredients of modern biography. Boswell himself read widely, and his subject (Johnson) taught him to be truthful and to approach his task with sympathy and understanding. His larger awareness of the world of learning seems to have given him a passion for accuracy and completeness. To all of this, Boswell added his own genius. [12]

Boswell’s biography was an exception, however, and most of the products of English authors fell way short of this masterpiece. Generations before Johnson, the Reformation had triggered in England a broad-based movement to reform and purify the Church of England. These Puritans looked outward at the problems of their society and inward for evidence that their lives were worthy of God’s saving grace. The first Puritan biographies were a type of autobiographical explanation to themselves. American Puritans continued this approach in their histories, in which they sought to provide religious justification for their “cities upon the hill.” Borrowing the concept of a “chosen people” from the Old Testament, they viewed their colonization of America in biblical terms. As God’s chosen people, their histories provided modern extensions of their scripture. They saw in their institutions and personal lives the unfolding of God’s intentions and designs. In a very real sense, their histories were a form of promotional literature for the folks back home in England. Works such as William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation and Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana explained to themselves and to others why they came to America. Thus, their histories told of personal experiences not so much to discover but to protect their identity and to justify their quest for a new Zion. Their purposes were mainly didactic, primarily to provide spiritual guides for wayward souls and to invite others to join their movement. [13]

In the hands of writers like Bradford and Mather, history became a biography in which the critical moments in Puritan society were portrayed as personal crises and social conflicts in the struggle of individual Christians with Satan. [14] Such biography tended toward hagiography, or the biography of saints. In this sense, these biographies had much in common with the medieval “Lives of Saints,” [15] but Puritan histories broadened their scope to include biographies of individuals other than the leaders. The existence of large numbers of Puritan autobiographies testifies to the fact that each man was his own biographer, that each person had a responsibility and accountability before God to record the workings of God in his or her life.

In time, due primarily to the influence of the Enlightenment, the Christian emphasis on supernatural causes of historical events gave way to a more secular interpretation of history based upon the concepts of human progress, reason, and material well-being. Enlightenment thinkers taught men to believe that man, by the use of his reason, could control his destiny and determine his own material and intellectual progress in this world. Newton’s discovery of “natural law” did not dispense with God, but in time it seemed to make God and accompanying supernatural explanations less necessary. [16]

The implications for biographers were obvious; the Christian theory of history was gradually abandoned and replaced by a quest for natural laws as the motivating forces in human history. The major historians of the American Revolution seldom brought God into the picture, and the historians and biographers of the new American nation continued this pattern. Biographies that appeared in the early years of the new nation were patterned after Puritan models; however, the religious sense of mission was gradually replaced with a more secular view that substituted patriotism for religiosity. Biography thus told of the rise of liberty and human rights rather than the quest for the city of God, even though a Christian nation was assumed. [17]

It was into this setting that Mormonism was born. Like ancient Israel and early Christianity, Mormonism partook of a concrete existence in time and space by its claims of visitations of God and angels at specific times and specific places. These claims gave the movement a historical substance that encouraged followers to record their own place in the unfolding of the Restoration.

As in Puritanism, the first records of Mormonism were journals and autobiographies—records, on the whole, of private experiences and divine happenings. [18] Most early members were too busy to be very introspective, and thus the first attempts at biography were mostly tied into the early events of their institutional history. Thus, the first efforts at biography combined both history and autobiography. This can be seen in the first letters from missionaries in the field, many of which were published in early Mormon newspapers, as well as in the defensive histories of the Missouri persecutions. Almost unconsciously, however, these reports contained as much about themselves as about the Church they were representing. [19]

This combination of history and autobiography is also evident in the first real biography to appear in the Church: Lucy Mack Smith’s Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations (1853). Like the Book of Mormon, this work was the history of an extended family. It told of the faith, dreams, and experiences of the Macks and the Smiths on the New England frontier. Its narrative depended on family records and personal observation, given focus by a strong sense of calling which came to rest on the experiences and visions of Joseph Smith, Jr. In this volume, too, the family’s story is eventually subordinated to the emerging institution of the church Joseph founded. Throughout the pages of this volume, Lucy weaves the threads of her own experience with those of the Smith and the Mack families and of Joseph Smith, Jr., into a richly textured cloth that traces the emergence of the institution her family anticipated and played such a prominent role in establishing. To read this family history is to share the pride of the first Mormon matriarch. [20]

This pride in history and family permeates other early attempts at Mormon biography. For example, the overriding principle of the numerous biographical sketches that were published by Andrew Jenson, Orson F. Whitney, and Frank Esshom is a strong veneration of forebears. [21] But all of these biographical collections also shared the traits of the “mug book” type of biography that was being produced in America during and after the centennial celebration of 1876. [22] While the collections of biographies contain the “essentials” of numerous lives, they also show the flaws of other similar works of the late nineteenth century. For one thing, they read more like eulogies than biographies. Seldom do the sketches move beyond chronological summary; almost all the portraits are flat, one-dimensional views; seldom are women included; and, for the most part, the decision to include anyone was based almost entirely on administrative considerations. Thus, most of the sketches emphasize career rather than character.

Because the focus was ecclesiastical and bureaucratic, individuality was almost always subordinated to hierarchic considerations. For the most part, Mormon biography has maintained this emphasis to the present day.

However, there were signs of an emerging, more mature, biography in Mormonism by the 1870s. Edward Tullidge’s biographies—Joseph Smith (1878) and Brigham Young (1876)—show strong evidence of an emerging craft. While these works could combine hero worship and hatred, their contents reveal an immigrant convert’s attempt to understand his new religion as well as his new homeland. His biographical sketches in other more topical histories are also worth reading, even though his emphasis was institutional and political. [23] Much of the same could be said about T. B. H. Stenhouse, whose RockyMountain Saints (1873), in spite of its critical stance against Brigham Young, did try to let his subjects speak for themselves. [24]

At another extreme was George Q. Cannon’s biography of Joseph Smith (1888), parts of which were actually written by his son, Frank Cannon. [25] Its intended audience was the youth of the Church; thus, the tone and content of the volume were very laudatory and the authors made little attempt to probe beneath the surface of the Prophet’s life.

Even B. H. Roberts’s Life of John Taylor (1892) bordered on eulogistic biography. [26] Roberts’s research and access to Taylor’s journals and family papers remind us that he did his homework. But the final product, appearing as it did in an age of active anti-Mormonism, was much less of an accomplishment than would have been possible in a less defensive atmosphere.

Early twentieth-century Mormon biographers were generally unable to surpass the limitations of earlier works. But works by authors like Matthias F. Cowley, John Henry Evans, Edward Anderson, and Bryant S. Hinckley do suggest several things. [27] First, there was a growing market, hence a larger audience, within Mormonism for biographical works. Second, they show that even the non-Mormon publishing houses could be convinced that Mormon subjects were salable. Finally, they reveal that biography is a viable channel for historical study.

The appearance in 1945 of Fawn Brodie’s biography of Joseph Smith was something of a watershed in Mormon biography. For many it represented the biographical craft at its worst: a secular portrait of a religious man. While some continue to praise this study as a valid explanation of the Prophet in naturalistic terms, Mormon scholars have suggested that, while students of early Mormonism do not have to believe Joseph’s claims to revelations, they do have to believe that Joseph believed they were real. [28] Thus, Brodie’s biography, whatever its historical and literary merits, has served to raise important questions in Mormon scholarship. In addition to setting an agenda for a new generation of studies on Mormons, it revealed the extremes of secular scholarship growing incapable of treating religious experience in any other than naturalistic terms. [29]

Juanita Brooks was the first to demonstrate how both accurate historical research and a keen sense of the spiritual dimension of an individual could be combined to create a great biography. Her study of John Doyle Lee, with its honesty, its pathos, and its vividness, shows what can be done, and continues to serve as a model for the craft of LDS biography. [30]

Unfortunately, few biographies since Brooks’s have ventured beyond the limiting format of chronology and systematic moralizing. Those biographies which have tried to transcend these more cardboard-type portraits have been noted in recent essays. [31] A sampling would include Truman G. Madsen’s Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story (1980), Leonard J. Arrington’s Charles C. Rich (1974) and Edwin D. Woolley (1976), Edward and Andrew Kimball’s Spencer W Kimball (1977), Andrew Karl Larson’s Erastus Snow (1971), D. Michael Quinn’s]. J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years (1983), and Stanley B. Kimball’s Heber C. Kimball (1981). [32]

All of these works constitute good biography because their authors tried to get at the truth by conquering the documents and milieu of their subjects’ lives. Each author knew there was no substitute for hard work, much time, and deep thought. They portray the careers and character of their subjects in their own way. Each author seems to have caught the spirit of the counsel that Marion G. Romney, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, gave to the biographers of J. Reuben Clark.

Any biographer of President Clark must write the truth about him. To tell more or less than the truth would violate a governing principle in his life. When I first met with those who are writing his biography, I explained that I did not want them to produce a mere collection of uplifting experiences about President Clark . . . nor did I want a detailed defense of his beliefs. I wanted a biography of the man himself, as he was, written with the same kind of courage, honesty, and frankness that]. J. Reuben Clark himself would have shown. An account of his life should tell of his decisions and indecisions, sorrows and joys, regrets and aspirations, reverses, and accomplishments, and, above all, his constant striving. [33]

André Maurois, one of the successful writers of biography in the twentieth century, observed years ago that the responsibilities of the biographer include being both a historian and a portrait painter. “An honest biographer,” he wrote, “should sit in front of his documents as an honest painter sits in front of his model, thinking only: ‘What do I see, and which is the best way to convey my vision to others?’” As historian, the biographer seeks for truth; as portrait painter, he seeks for beauty, or at least an artistic rendition of the subject being represented by his work. [34]

Mormon biography has suffered from an imbalance of these two main ingredients. While good biography is a craft, much of Mormon biography has not yet attained the delicate balance between life as history and life as art. We lack what Virginia Woolf calls the “creative facts” which the biographer must use after he has conquered the known documents. [35] Unlike the novelist who can ignore the facts, the biographer must not ignore the historical truth about his subject. But the biographer must do more than simply give us more “facts” about an individual; he must give us an increased sense of recognition of our own life and the world in which we live. It is in this ability that the biographer can combine the facts of history and the truths of life. [36]

Throughout our history, biography has served to enlighten, enrich, and encourage us. A good biography always leaves us edified and educated. It also is a celebration of individuality—of the freedom of choice—which reminds each of us that the choices we make reaffirm our own uniqueness, our eternal self-worth, that which makes us truly sons and daughters of God.


[1] Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi, Zakhor, Jewish History and Jewish Memory (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1982), 93, 94.

[2] Yerushalmi, Zakhor, 93–94. The distinction here is between one who cures or heals and one who diagnoses.

[3] See David J. Whittaker, “A Covenant People,” The Seventh Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium Papers, 27 January 1979 (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1979), 196–216.

[4] For an overview of Mormon historical writing, see David J. Whittaker, “Historians and the Mormon Experience: A Sesquicentennial Perspective,” The Eighth Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium Papers, 26 January 1980 (Provo, UT: BYU Press, 1980), 293–327.

[5] On this history, see Dean C. Jessee, “The Writing of Joseph Smith’s History,” Brigham Young University Studies 11 (Summer 1971): 439–73; Dean C. Jessee, “The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History,” Journal of Mormon History 3 (1976): 23–46; and Howard C. Searle, “Early Mormon Historiography: Writing the History of the Mormons, 1830–1858” (Ph.D. diss., UCLA, 1979), 200–336.

[6] See the short discussion in John A. Garraty, The Nature of Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1957), 45–49.

[7] Garraty, The Nature of Biography, p. 46.

[8] D.J. Wilcox, The Development of Florentine Humanist Historiography in the Fifteenth Century (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1969), 29, as cited in Maurice Kenn, “Chivalry, Heralds, and History,” in The Writing of History in the Middle Ages, ed. R. H. C. Davis and J. M. Wallace-Hadrill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981), 393.

[9] Ernst Breisach, Historiography, Ancient, Medieval and Modern (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 100.

[10] See Garraty, Nature of Biography, 63f; Richard Daniel Altick, Lives and Letters: A History of Literary Biography in England and America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966), 9–45; and Myron Gilmore, The World of Humanism, 1453–1517 (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1952), 201–3.

[11] Samuel Johnson, “The Usefulness of Biography” (1750), in Biography and Truth, ed. Stanley Weintraub (Indianapolis: Babbs-Merrill, 1967), 16.

[12] This is Garraty’s evaluation (Garraty, Nature of Biography, 94). See also the Introductory Essay by Pat Rogers in the World’s Classic edition of the Life of Johnson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980).

[13] There has been a great amount written on the Puritans; good introductions to their historical attitudes and biographies are found in Peter Gay, A Loss of Mastery, Puritan Historians in Colonial America (New York: Random House, Vintage Books, 1968); Kenneth Murdock, “Clio in the Wilderness: History and Biography in Puritan New England,” Church History 24 (Sept. 1955): 221–38; Peter A. Smith, “Politics and Sainthood: Biography by Cotton Mather,” William and Mary Quarterly, ser. 3rd, 20 (Apr. 1963): 186–206; and Cecelia Tichi, "Spiritual Biography and the ‘Lords Remembrancers,’” William and Mary Quarterly, ser. 3rd, 28 (Jan, 1971): 64–85. I have drawn on all these works.

[14] Peter Gay, Loss of Mastery, 62.

[15] On the medieval lives of Saints, see Altick, Lives and Letters, 5–7; Donald A. Stauffer, English Biography before 1700 (Cambridge, England: University Press, 1930), 4–22; and Waldo H. Dunn, English Biography (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1916), 1–45.

[16] A good summary of the transition to Enlightenment thought is found in Ronald N. Stromberg, An Intellectual History of Modern Europe, 2d ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1975), 1–195. See also John E. Van De Weterung, “God, Science, and the Puritan Dilemma,” New England Quarterly 38 (Dec. 1965): 494–507; Joseph J. Ellis, The New England Mind in Transition: Samuel Johnson of Connecticut, 1696–1772 (New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 1973); and Henry F. May, The Enlightenment in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976).

[17] This is shown in Bert James Loewenberg, American History in American Thought: Christopher Columbus to Henry Adams (New York: Simon and Schuster, Touchstone Book, 1973), 184–308; Lester H. Cohen, The Revolutionary Histories: Contemporary Narratives of the American Revolution (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1980), 86–106; and in George H. Callcott, History in the United States, 1800–1860: Its Practice and Purpose (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1970), 151–73.

[18] See, for example, Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool: Published by S. W. Richards, 1853); and The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt, Jr. (New York: Russell Brothers, 1874).

[19] See, for example, Journal of Heber C. Kimball (Nauvoo, Ill.: Printed by Robinson and Smith, 1840). This was also true of the histories of the Missouri persecutions issued after 1838. See particularly Parley P. Pratt, History of the Late Persecution (Detroit: Dawson & Bates, Printers, 1839); John P. Greene, Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter-day Saints, from the State of Missouri (Cincinnati: Printed by R. P. Brooks, 1839); and Sidney Rigdon, Appeal to the American People: Being an Account of the Persecutions (Cincinnati: Shepard and Stearns, 1840).

[20] Regarding Lucy Mack Smith’s history, see Searle, “Early Mormon Historiography,” 358–428; Richard L. Anderson, “His Mother’s Manuscript: An Intimate View of Joseph Smith” (Forum address, Brigham Young University, 27 January 1976); and Jan Shipps, “The Prophet, His Mother and Early Mormonism: Mother Smith’s History as a Passageway to Understanding” (MS, 1972).

[21] Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Jenson History Company, 1901–1936). Jenson first published a “Biographical Encyclopedia” as an 1888 supplement to his Historical Record. Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons Co., 1904); volume 4 was a biographical volume. Frank E. Esshom, Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah (Salt Lake City: Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Co., 1913).

[22] See the comments of John Walton Caughey, Hubert Howe Bancroft, Historian of the West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1946), 314–29. It should be remembered that Andrew Jenson’s Historical Record was a subscription historical/biographical periodical.

[23] Edward W. Tullidge, Life of Brigham Young or Utah and Her Founders (New York: n.p., 1876); Edward W. Tullidge, Life of Joseph the Prophet (New York: n.p., 1878). See Ronald W. Walker, “Edward Tullidge: Historian of the Mormon Commonwealth,” Journal of Mormon History 3 (1976): 55–72.

[24] Thomas B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1873). See Ronald W. Walker, “The Stenhouses and the Making of a Mormon Image,” Journal of Mormon History 1 (1974): 51–72.

[25] George Q. Cannon, The Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888).

[26] B. H. Roberts, The Life of John Taylor, Third President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons Co., 1892).

[27] Matthias F. Cowley, Wilford Woodruff . . . History of His Life and Labors (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909); John Henry Evans, Joseph Smith the American Prophet (New York: Macmillan Co., 1933); John Henry Evans, Charles Coulson Rich: Pioneer Builder of the West (New York: Macmillan Co., 1936); John Henry Evans and Minnie Egan Anderson, Ezra T. Benson: Pioneer-Statesman-Saint (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1947); Edward H. Anderson, The Life of Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons Co., 1893); Bryant S. Hinckley, Daniel Hamner Wells and Events of His Times (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1942); and Bryant S. Hinckley, Heber J. Grant: Highlights in the Life of a Great Leader (Salt Lake City: Stevens and Wallis, 1949).

[28] Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the American Prophet, 2d ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971). See, most recently, Marvin S. Hill, “Secular or Sectarian History? A Critique of No Man Knows My History,” Church History 43 (Mar. 1974): 78–96; and “Brodie Revisited: A Reappraisal,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 7 (Winter 1972): 72–85.

[29] Especially revealing are the comments of Dale Morgan in his 7 January 1946 letter to Fawn Brodie: “I don’t think you fully recognize the extent to which your book was written out of an emotional compulsion, and the extent to which your compulsion persists. You are looking for something that will occupy and satisfy your emotions as Mormonism has done, and it is hardly likely that you will find such a topic or subject. Because writing Joseph’s biography was your act of liberation and of exorcism” (MS in Brodie Papers, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah).

[30] Juanita Brooks, John Doyle Lee, Zealot-Pioneer Builder-Scapegoat (Glendale: The Arthur H. Clark Co., 1962).

[31] Davis Bitton, “Mormon Biography,” Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 4 (Winter 1981): 1–16; and Ronald W. Walker, “The Challenge and Craft of Mormon Biography,” BYU Studies 22 (Spring 1982): 179–92.

[32] Truman G. Madsen, Defender of the Faith: The B. H. Roberts Story (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980); Leonard J. Arrington, Charles C. Rich: Mormon General and Western Frontiersman (Provo: BYU Press, 1974); Leonard J. Arrington, From Quaker to Latter-day Saint: Bishop Edwin D. Woolley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976); Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977); Andrew Karl Larson, Erastus Snow: The Life of a Missionary and Pioneer for the Early Mormon Church (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1971); D. Michael Quinn, J. Reuben Clark: The Church Years (Provo UT: BYU Press, 1983); Stanley B. Kimball, Heber C. Kimball: Mormon Patriarch and Pioneer (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981).

[33] See Foreword by Marion G. Romney to Frank W. Fox, J. Reuben Clark, the Public Years (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co. and BYU Press, 1980), xi.

[34] André Maurois, “The Ethics of Biography,” ed. and comp, Rudolf Kirk, et al., English Institute of Annals, 1942 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1943), 6–28. Also in Weintraub, Biography and Truth, 44–50.

[35] Virginia Woolf, “The Art of Biography,” Atlantic Monthly 163 (1939): 506–10. See also Lewis Mumford, “The Task of Modern Biography,” English Journal 23 (Jan. 1934): 1–9.

[36] Insightful essays on biography by Mormon authors, in addition to those cited in note 31 include James B. Allen, “Writing Mormon Biographies,” World Conference on Records: Preserving Our Heritage (Salt Lake City, 12–15 August 1980), series 116, 2:1–15; and Davis Bitton, “Family History: Therapy or Scholarship[?],” World Conference on Records: Preserving Our Heritage, series 109, 2:1–6. Other recommended studies for students of biography, in addition to the excellent Garraty and Altick volumes cited above, are Catherine Drinker Bowen, Biography: The Craft and the Calling (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1968); Robert Gittings, The Nature of Biography (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1978); Alan Shelston, Biography (London: Methuen and Co., 1977); Daniel Aaron, ed., Studies in Biography, Harvard English Studies, 8 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978); Leon Edel, et al., Telling Lives: The Biographers Art, ed. Marc Pachter (Washington, DC: New Republic Books for the Smithsonian Institution, 1979); and Edel, Writing Lives, Principia Biographica (New York: W. W. Norton, 1984).