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Emmeline B. Wells
An Intimate History
Carol Cornwall Madsen
Mormon Studies / Women's Studies / Biography
Emmeline B. Wells was the most noted Utah Mormon woman of her time. Lauded nationally for her energetic support of the women’s rights movement of the nineteenth century, she was a self-made woman who channeled her lifelong sense of destiny into ambitious altruism. Her public acclaim and activism belied the introspective, self-appraising, and emotional persona she expressed in the pages of her forty-seven extant diaries. After reconciling herself to the heartaches of plural marriage, she pursued a self-directed life in earnest and wrote, “I have risen triumphant.”
This new biography tells the story of the private Emmeline. The unusual circumstances of her several marriages, the complicated lives of her five daughters, the losses and disappointments interspersed with bright moments and achievements, all engendered the idea that her life was a romance, with the mysterious, tragic, and sentimental elements of that genre. This volume, drawing heavily on Emmeline Wells’s own words, tells the complicated story of a woman of ambition, strength, tenderness, and faith.
Carol Cornwall Madsen is professor emeritus of history at Brigham Young University, a past president of the Mormon History Association, and former vice-chair of the Board of Utah State History.
Praise and Reviews:
“Madsen’s absorbing biography is meticulously researched and elegantly composed. No Mormon studies education is complete without this book.”
—Kate Holbrook, specialist in Women’s History, LDS Church History Department, and coeditor of Women and Mormonism Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
“A significant contribution to women’s history, Utah history, and LDS history that will also appeal to the general reader.”
—Kathryn L. McKay, professor of history, Weber State University
“Carol Madsen, having previously dealt with Emmeline Wells’ public life, now ably explores her interior landscape, tracing the contrast between her public triumph and her private pain, from her ‘wild and fanciful’ youth to her unexpected humiliations. Wells’ excellent record-keeping habit enables the rich detail of her story. This extended and sympathetic inner biography of the best known Mormon woman of her time is told largely in her own words, linked by Madsen’s steady and judicious narrative.”
—Claudia L. Bushman, author of Contemporary Mormonism