Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from A-E

Brodie, Fawn (McKay) (1915–1981) - Biography

church wrote history university

Fawn Brodie was born September 15, 1915, in Ogden, Utah, the daughter of Thomas E. and Fawn (Brimhall) McKay. Her uncle, David O. McKay, was president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the fifties and sixties, and her maternal grandfather, George H. Brimhall, was once president of Brigham Young University. Fawn graduated from Weber College (then a junior college) at age fourteen and from the University of Utah at age eighteen. She returned to Weber College and taught for a year (1934–35) before travelling east to pursue graduate work at the University of Chicago, where she received an M.A. in English in 1935 at age twenty. That same year she married Bernard Brodie, a fellow student who eventually became a professor of political science.

In 1945 Brodie published a biography of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, entitled No Man Knows My History . While the book received wide praise from the public, Brodie was condemned by some Mormons who believed it undermined the Mormon religion. She received hate mail from the public, and her family urged her to “repent.” She was criticized for not using manuscript materials available in the church historian’s office; she later explained that she did not want to involve her uncle in any controversy. She was also criticized for using fictional techniques similar to those used by Catharine Drinker Bowen. Brodie requested and was granted excommunication by the Mormon Church in May 1946.

In 1959 Fawn Brodie wrote Thaddeus Stevens, Scourge of the South , which won the medal in history from the Commonwealth Club of California in 1960. In 1962 she published From Cross-Bow to H-Bomb . In 1967 she wrote The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton . The same year she became a member of the history department of the University of California at Los Angeles, where she remained until 1976. In 1974 she wrote Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History , which, like her Joseph Smith book, was controversial. In it, she wrote that an intimate relationship existed between Jefferson and one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. Fawn Brodie’s last biography, Richard Nixon: The Shaping of His Character , was published in 1981 as she was dying of cancer.

Brodsky, Adolfz [next] [back] Brockhouse, Bertram (Neville)

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or