In most artistic fields a sort of canon has developed, a list of works widely considered as the important works in the field. Mormon Literature is no different.
We all know something about these lists. When we reach High School and College, we are expected to read the important works of American Literature: Moby Dick, Tom Sawyer, The Last of the Mohicans, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and a host of other works are familiar to us, if not because we have read them, then because they are important reference points in our culture. Similar Canons exist in other fields ““ music (Bach, Beetoven, Brahms and the Beetles), art (Michaelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, and Warhol), etc.
Despite the fact that Mormon Literature isn’t widely known, it does have such a canon. A few works (e.g., the Book of Mormon) are widely known. Others (e.g., Added Upon) have had a profound and lasting impact, despite the fact that they are now unknown and include speculative or erroneous doctrine.
Fortunately, we do have some guide’s to the most important works of Mormon Literature. Just one of these has been published: Richard H. Cracroft and Neal E. Lambert, eds. A Believing People: Literature of the Latter-day Saints. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1974. Unfortunately, it has long been out-of-print. Fortunately, used copies are fairly easy to come by, and much of the book is available online.
There are sources that effectively list important Mormon lists, including Eugene England’s Mormon Literature: Prospects and Progress and an online anthology put together by BYU English Professor Gideon Burton, the Mormon Literature Online Anthology.
In part in response to some of the discussion here and elsewhere, I’ve compiled the following list from the above sources. Undoubtedly there are errors and omissions in this list, and, like any canon, the canon in Mormon Literature is open, so new works might be added at any time. I am, of course, open to hearing of any other works that should be included.
I should also be clear that many of these works are not necessarily the best of Mormon literature — they are included because of their historical position and influence. And I’ve put many works in a Recent Works category, simply because it seems early to me to call them part of the canon.
Please note that many of the items below are out-of-print. I have not yet tried to put together a list of where these can be found, nor have I looked for other works by the same authors that should be included. I hope to add those in the future (and with the agreement of my co-bloggers, I’ll make this list a page here at A Motley Vision).
With all its imperfections, however, I hope this list will give us all an idea of what is out there to read.
Arrington, Leonard J. The First Year in the Valley
Brodie, Fawn. No Man Knows My History.
Brooks, Juanita. The Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Hill, Donna. Joseph Smith: The First Mormon, 1977.
Kane, Thomas L. The Mormons
Roberts, B. H. The Missouri Persecutions
Smith, Lucy Mack. Young Joseph’s Illness
Smith, Joseph, Jr. Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story
Smith, Joseph, Jr. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 1904.
Talmage, James E. The Death and Burial of Jesus Christ
Biography and Autobiography
Bailey, Florence A. Merriam. Grandma
Brooks, Juanita. Home Reminiscences of Uncle Will Brooks
Brooks, Juanita. Quicksand and Cactus: A Memoir of the Southern Mormon Frontier, 1982.
Jones, Daniel W. Some Early Mormon “Fast Days”
Kenner, S. A. Indian Episode of Early Days
Kimball, Edward L., and Andrew E. Kimball Jr. Spencer W. Kimball, 1977.
Maeser, Karl G. How I Became a “Mormon”
Pratt, Parley P., The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 1874
Roberts, B. H., Joseph Smith the Prophet-Teacher, 1908
Sorensen, Virginia. Where Nothing is Long Ago: Memories of a Mormon Childhood, 1963
Taylor, John. The Martyrdom
Clawson, Ellen Spencer. To Ellen Pratt McGary
Hascall, Ursulia B. and Irene Hascall Pomeroy. The Hascall-Pomeroy Correspondence
Smith, Joseph, Jr. To Emma Smith
Smith, Joseph, Jr. To W. W. Phelps
Young, Brigham. To the Brethren Returning from Missions
Young, Brigham. Brigham Young’s Last Will and Testament
Journals and Diaries
Black, Joseph Smith. Cohabitation: The Day of the U.S. Marshal
Clayton, William. Arriving in Zion
Meeks, Priddy. Historical Chips
Pay, Mary Goble. Death Strikes the Hand Cart Company
Stout, Hosea. Crossing the Plains
Woodruff, Wilford. Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833-1898.
Hinckley, Gordon B. The True Strength of the Church
Kimball, J. Golden. What is a “Good Man”?
Kimball, Spencer W. “Second Century Address.” BYU Studies 16 (Summer 1976): 445-57.
Pratt, Orson. Discourse on the Plan of Salvation
Roberts, B. H. Protest Against the Science-thought of “A Dying Universe”
Roberts, B. H. No Immortality for Man: The Mission of the Church of the New Dispensation
Roberts, B. H. The Truth, the Way, and the Life: An Elementary Treatise on Theology, 1994
Smith, Joseph, Jr. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. by Joseph Fielding Smith, 1970.
Smith, Joseph, Jr., The King Follett Discourse.
Young, Brigham. Conference Remarks on Science and Religion
Young, Brigham. The Discourses of Brigham Young, edited by John A. Widtsoe, 1971
Young, Brigham. The Essential Brigham Young, 1992.
Bennion, Lowell L. The Things that Matter Most, 1978
Bradford, Mary Lythgoe. Leaving Home: Personal Essays, 1987
Bradford, Mary Lythgoe. Mormon Women Speak: A Collection of Essays, 1982
Bradford, Mary Lythgoe. Personal Voices: A Celebration of Dialogue, 1987
Burgess-Olson, Vicky, ed., Sister Saints, 1978
Bushman, Claudia L.. Mormon Sisters: Women in Early Utah, 1976
Christensen, Parley A. All in a Teacher’s Day, 1948
Christensen, Parley A. Of a Number of Things, 1962
Christensen, Parley A. Mormonism: An Eternal Quest
England, Eugene. Why the Church is as True as the Gospel
England, Eugene. Dialogues with Myself
Geary, Edward. Goodbye to Poplarhaven: Recollections of a Utah Boyhood, 1985.
Geary, Edward. The Proper Edge of the Sky: The High Plateau Country of Utah, 1992.
Hansen, Carole C. “The Death of a Son,” Dialogue 2 [Autumn 1967]: 91
Hawkinson, Sharon. Only Strangers Travel, 1984
Holland, Jeffrey R. and Patricia. On Earth as It Is in Heaven, 1989.
Madsen, Truman G. Human Anguish and Divine Love.
Mulder, William. Mormonism and Literature.
Nibley, Hugh. Approaching Zion, 1989.
Nibley, Hugh. Educating the Saints–A Brigham Young Mosaic.
Rasmussen, Dennis. The Lord’s Question: A Call to Come unto Him, 1985.
Thomas, Robert K. A Literary Critic Looks at the Book of Mormon
Whitney, Orson F. Home Literature, 1888.
Anonymous folksongs. Once I Lived in Cottonwood
Anonymous folksongs. The Handcart Song
Anonymous folksongs. Marriage Proposal
Clayton, William. Come, Come, Ye Saints
Coolbrith, Ina. Millennium
Crocheron, Augusta Joyce. Thoughts Within
Crocheron, Augusta Joyce. Parting
Crocheron, Augusta Joyce. Estranged
Jaques, John. Oh Say, What is Truth?
Johnson, Joel H. High on a Mountain Top
Lyon, John. The Apostate: A Fragment
Lyon, John. Family Prayer
Penrose, Charles W. Up, Awake, Ye Defenders of Zion
Phelps, William W. Gently Raise the Sacred Strain
Phelps, William W. Now Let Us Rejoice
Phelps, William W. Hosanna Anthem (“The Spirit of God like a Fire Is Burning”)
Phelps, William W. Praise to the Man
Phelps, William W. Vade Mecum: From W. W. Phelps to Joseph Smith the Prophet
Pratt, Parley P. Father in Heaven, We Do Believe.
Pratt, Parley P. Come, O Thou King of Kings
Pratt, Parley P. The Morning Breaks; the Shadows Flee
Pratt, Parley P. An Angel From on High
Pratt, Parley P. Evening Prayer
Smith, Joseph, Jr. The Vision: From Joseph Smith to W.W. Phelps, Esq.
Smyth, Richard. Israel, Israel, God Is Calling
Snow, Eliza R. Be Not Discouraged
Snow, Eliza R., Eliza R. Snow: An Immortal, Selected Writings of Eliza R. Snow, 1957
Snow, Eliza R. How Great the Wisdom and the Love
Snow, Eliza R. Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother
Snow, Eliza R. My First View of a Western Prairie
Snow, Eliza R. Mental Gas
Snow, Eliza R., O My Father
Snow, Eliza R., Poems, Religious, Historical, and Political, 1856
Spencer, Josephine. The Long Steel Road
Townsend, Joseph L. To Nephi, Seer of Olden Time
Townsend, Joseph L. Hope of Israel
Wheelock, Cyrus H. Ye Elders of Israel
Whitney, Orson F. The Wintry Day, Descending to Its Close
Whitney, Orson F. Ararat
Whitney, Orson F. Elias, an Epic of the Ages, 1904
Anonymous. Give, Said the Little Stream
Asplund, Thomas. The Heart of My Father
Christmas, R. A. At Mountain Meadows: for Juanita Brooks
Clark, Dennis Marden. Statement before the World Expands
Clark, Dennis Marden. Meadow
Clark, Dennis Marden. A Name and a Blessing
Clark, Marden J. Lines on a Line
Clark, Marden J. Moods: Of Late, 1979.
Coles, Christie Lund. Modern Christmas
Cracroft, R. Paul. The Martyrdom
Crawford, Vesta Pierce. The Fable of the Rose
Davis, Harrison. From the Land of Song
Doty, Ann. Sterling and Jenny
Drake, Dennis. To Jacob Hamblin (1819-1886)
England, Eugene, and Dennis Clark, eds. Harvest Contemporary Mormon Poems, 1989.
Golightly, Max. Widow Spring
Hardy, Nolyn. Today’s Dignitary
Harris, John B. Barbed Wire, 1974
Harris, John Sterling. The Assassination of Emma Gray
Harris, John Sterling. Hay Derrick
Hart, Edward L. To Utah, 1979
Hart, Edward L. The Gentle Way: (To President David O. McKay)
Hill, Lael W. The Pagans
Jolley, Clifton Holt. Heritage
Jones, Helen Walker. Cornerstone (Tracting in New Mexico)
King, Arthur Henry. On This Gray and Silver Day
King, Arthur Henry. Hot Weather in Tucson
Larsen, Clinton F. A Letter from Israel Whiton, 1851
Larsen, Clinton F. Advent
Larsen, Clinton F. The Witness
Larson, Clinton F. The Lord of Experience, 1967
Lyon, John. The Harp of Zion: A Collection of Poems, Etc., 1853
Miller, Marilyn McMeen. News Express
Nielsen, Veneta L. My Father Tamed Wild Horses
Pearson, Carol Lynn. To the Mormon Now Blessed With Roses Instead of Tar and Feathers
Pearson, Carol Lynn. Guilt
Pearson, Carol Lynn. Ritual
Pearson, Carol Lynn. To an Atheist
Pearson. Carol Lynn. Beginnings, 1967.
Pearson. Carol Lynn. The Search, 1970.
Randall, Naomi W. I Am a Child of God
Sillitoe, Linda. Trip Toward Prayer
Southwell, Charis. Complete Poems online, including “Reformation”, “Waking”
Swenson, May The Centaur
Swenson, May Any Object
Thayne, Emma Lou. Pruning the Sage
Thayne, Emma Lou. Heretic
Thayne, Emma Lou. First Loss
Thayne, Emma Lou. Sunday School Picture
Thayne, Emma Lou. Spaces in the Sage, 1971.
Thayne, Emma Lou. Things Happen: Poems of Survival, 1991.
Wright, David L. A Gathering of Saints
Young, S. Dilworth. The Brothers: June 24, 1844
Anderson, Nephi. Lester Amsden’s Love
Chandler, Neal. Benediction, 1989.
Kump, Eileen G. The Willows
Marshall, Donald R. The Rummage Sale: Collections and Recollections, 1972
Peterson, Levi S. The Canyons of Grace: Stories.
Peterson, Levi S. Night Soil: New Stories
Pratt, Parley P., A Dialogue between Joseph Smith and the Devil, 1844
Sorensen, Virginia. The Darling Lady
Spencer, Josephine. A Trial of Hearts
Spencer, Josephine. The Senator from Utah and Other Tales of the Wasatch, 1895
Thayer, Douglas. Mr. Wahlquist in Yellowstone and Other Stories, 1989.
Thayer, Douglas. Under the Cottonwoods and other Mormon Stories, 1977.
Anderson, Nephi. Added Upon, 1898.
Anderson, Nephi. Marcus King, Mormon.
Brown, Marilyn. The Earthkeepers, 1979.
Card, Orson Scott. Saints, 1984.
Card, Orson Scott. Seventh Song, 1987.
Card, Orson Scott. Red Prophet, 1988.
Card, Orson Scott. Prentice Alvin, 1989.
Fisher, Vardis. Children of God: An American Epic, 1939.
Gates, Susa Young. John Stevens’ Courtship, 1909.
Lund, Gerald N. Pillar of Light, 1990.
Marhsall, Donald R. Frost in the Orchard, 1977.
Peterson, Levi S. The Backslider, 1986.
Peterson, Levi S. Aspen Mulrooney.
Roberts, B. H., Corianton: A Nephite Story, 1902.
Sorensen, Virginia. The Evening and the Morning, 1949
Sorensen, Virginia. A Little Lower Than the Angels, 1942
Taylor, Samuel W. Heaven Knows Why.
Taylor, Samuel W. Family Kingdom, 1951.
Taylor, Samuel W. Nightfall at Nauvoo, 1971.
Thayer, Douglas. Summer Fire, 1983
Whipple, Maurine. The Giant Joshua, 1941
Elliott, Robert. Fires of the Mind.
Gates, Crawford. Promised Valley, 1947
Kelly, Martin L. And They Shall Be Gathered
Larson, Clinton F. The Mantle of the Prophet.
Pearson, Carol Lynn. The Order Is Love.
Pearson, Carol Lynn. Mother Wove the Morning.
Pearson, Carol Lynn. My Turn on Earth, 1977.
Rogers, Thomas. God’s Fools: Plays of Mitigated Conscience, 1983.
Rogers, Thomas. Huebener and Other Plays, 1992.
Stewart, Doug. Saturday’s Warrior, 1974.
Recent Works (not yet classic)
Arrington, James. Here’s Brother Brigham
Arrington, James. Farley Family Reunion
Arrington, James. J. Golden
Arrington, James and Tim Slover. Wilford Woodruff: God’s Fisherman.
Barber, Phyllis. Legs: The Story of a Giraffe, 1991
Barber, Phyllis. How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir, 1992
Barber, Phyllis. The School of Love, 1990
Barber, Phyllis. And the Desert Shall Blossom: A Novel, 1991
Bennion, John. Breeding Leah and Other Stories, 1990.
Bickmore, Lisa Orme. Haste, 1994.
Bell, Elouise. Only When I Laugh, 1990.
Cannon, Ann Edwards. Amazing Gracie, 1991
Cheney, Thomas Edward. Voices from the Bottom of the Bowl: A Folk History of Teton Valley, Idaho, 1823ï¿½2, 1991.
Evans, Kathy. Imagination Comes to Breakfast, 1992.
Evenson, Brian. Altman’s Tongue, 1994.
Fillerup, Michael. Visions and Other Stories, 1990.
Freeman, Judith. Set For Life, 1991.
Freeman, Judith. The Chinchilla Farm, 1989
Hepworth, Catherine. Antics! An Alphabetical Anthology, 1992
Horne, Lewis. What Do Ducks Do in Winter?, 1993.
Howe, Susan E. The Burdens of Earth, 1987
Howe, Susan E. A Dream for Katy, 1992
Hughes, Dean. Jenny Haller, 1983
Hughes, Dean. Go to the Hoop!, 1993.
Kalpakian, Laura. Those Later Days, 1985
Kidd, Kathryn H. Paradise Vue, 1989
Kirn, Walter. My Hard Bargain, 1990.
Labute, Neil. In the Company of Men
Labute, Neil. Sanguinarians
Larsen, Lance. Erasable Walls, 1998.
Marshall, Donald R. Enchantress of Crumbledown, 1990
Maxwell, Neal A. That Ye May Believe, 1992.
Okazaki, Chieko N. Lighten Up!, 1992
Okazaki, Chieko N. Cat’s Cradle, 1993.
Perry, Anne. Tathea, 1999.
Mortensen, Pauline. Back Before the World Turned Nasty, 1989.
Morris, Carroll Hofeling. The Broken Covenant, 1985.
Plummer, Louise. My Name Is Sus5an Smith. The 5 Is Silent, 1991
Samuelsen, Eric. Accommodations
Slover, Tim. Dreambuilder
Slover, Tim. Scales.
Sillitoe, Linda. Crazy for Living, 1993
Sillitoe, Linda. Sideways to the Sun, 1987.
Sillitoe, Linda. Windows on the Sea and Other Stories, 1989.
Spencer, Darrell. Woman Packing a Pistol, 1987
Spencer, Darrell. Our Secret’s Out, 1993
Tunnell, Michael O. Chinook!, 1993
Tunnell, Michael O. The Joke’s on George, 1993
Tunnell, Michael O. Beauty and the Beastly Children, 1993
Ulrich, Laurel. A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary 1785ï¿½2, 1990.
Williams, Terry Tempest. “The Clan of One-Breasted Women,”
Williams, Terry Tempest. Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, 1991.
Wunderli, Steve. Marty’s World, illustrated by Brent Watts, 1986
Young, Margaret Blair. House without Walls, 1990.
Young, Margaret Blair. Salvador, 1992.
Young, Margaret Blair. Elegies and Love Songs, 1992.
Young, Margaret Blair. I Am Jane.
Young, Margaret Blair. One More River to Cross, 2000, Standing on the Promises series.