Boadicea; the Mormon Wife: Life Scenes in Utah
by Alfreda Eva BellEdited and Annotated by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall
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Part of The Mormon Image in Literature series
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First published in 1855, Boadicea; the Mormon Wife belongs to a sub-genre of crime fiction that flourished in the Eastern United States during the 1850s. Boadicea has become increasingly important to scholars of Mormonism because it gives us a glimpse of the Mormon image in literature immediately after the Church’s public acknowledgement of plural marriage. Over the next half century, this image would be sharpened and refined by writers with different rhetorical goals: to end polygamy, to attack Mormon theology, or just to tell a highly entertaining adventure story. In Boadicea, though, we see these tropes in their infancy, through a prolific author working at break-neck speed to imagine the lives of a strange people for readers willing to pay the “extremely low price of 15 cents” for the privilege of being amazed by stories of polygyny and polyandry, along with generous helpings of adultery, seduction, kidnapping, and no fewer than fourteen untimely but spectacular deaths: people are shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, poisoned, hanged, strangled, and drowned. No other novel of the nineteenth century comes anywhere near Boadicea in portraying Mormon society as violent, chaotic, and dysfunctional.
About the Editors:
Michael Austin is the author or editor of seven books and more than 50 articles, book chapters, and reviews, including Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World’s Greatest Poem. He is currently the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas.
Ardis E. Parshall is a historian, freelance researcher specializing in Mormon history, and author. She co-edited with Paul Reeve Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia and is currently writing She Shall Be an Ensign, a history of the LDS Church told through the lives of Mormon women. She blogs at Keepapitchinin.
Praise for Boadicea:
“Illustrate[s] . . . the wide variety with which Mormonism itself was received within the early American cultural context. . . . there is a certain Mormon textuality that emerges from these pages: experimental, provocative, heartfelt, and profoundly human.”
—Jenny Webb, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
ISBN 978-1-58958-566-9 (paperback)