Reflecting on the Wives of Joseph Smith

In this paper Compton will tell the story of how he came to write In Sacred Loneliness: the Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. For years he had been studying Classics, ancient Greek and Latin, but a series of odd accidents led him to start transcribing and annotating the diaries of Eliza R. Snow Smith. This in turn led him to try to come up with a reliable, scholarly list of Joseph Smith’s wives, so he could understand the women Eliza was associating with. To create that list he found that he needed to understand the full lives of those thirty-three women, and so ended up reading their diaries, letters and autobiographies. Eventually he began writing biographies of each of them. Problems and complexities in their marriage history led him on an exciting scholarly/detective quest. In addition, their writings were so moving that he ended up feeling deeply connected to each of them.

Todd Compton, Lindsay Hansen Park, Nadine McCombs Hansen