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Subject: Archive: Fawn Brodie, Jan. 10, 1981


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Biographer
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Date Posted: Sunday, January 10, 05:45:21pm

Fawn McKay Brodie (September 15, 1915 January 10, 1981) was an American biographer and one of the first female professors of history at UCLA, who is best known for Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History (1974), a work of psychobiography, and No Man Knows My History (1945), an early biography of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement.

Raised in Utah in a respected, if impoverished, family who were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), Fawn McKay drifted away from Mormonism during her years of graduate work at the University of Chicago and married Bernard Brodie, an academic who became a national defense expert; they had three children. Although Fawn Brodie eventually became one of the first tenured female professors of history at UCLA, she is best known for her five biographies, four of which incorporate insights from Freudian psychology.

Brodie's depiction of Smith in 1945 as a fraudulent "genius of improvisation"[2] has been described as both a "beautifully written biography ... the work of a mature scholar [that] represented the first genuine effort to come to grips with the contradictory evidence about Smith's early life"[3] and as a work that presented conjecture as fact.[4] Her best-selling psychobiography of Thomas Jefferson, published in 1974, was the first modern examination of evidence that Jefferson had taken his slave Sally Hemings as a concubine and fathered children by her. Brodie concluded he had so, a conclusion supported by a 1998 DNA analysis and current scholarly consensus.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fawn_M._Brodie

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