|Birth: ||Sep. 15, 1915|
|Death: ||Jan. 10, 1981|
Los Angeles County
Fawn McKay Brodie was the second of five children born to Thomas E. McKay and Fawn Brimhall, whom she was named after. Born in Ogden, Utah, she grew up in Huntsville, ten miles east of Ogden. Raised in a devout Latter-day Saint home, her paternal uncle was David O. McKay, a prominent LDS leader. David O. McKay was an Apostle in the LDS church when Brodie was born and he later became the ninth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Brodie earned a B.A. in English literature from the University of Utah in 1934 graduating as a Phi Beta Kappa student. By the following semester—at age nineteen—she taught English at Weber College in Ogden, Utah.
In June 1935 she was accepted for graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, but Fawn and her parents agreed it was best for her to study elsewhere. Fawn enrolled in the University of Chicago where she earned an M.A. in 1936.
At the University of Chicago Fawn lost her faith in the LDS religion entirely. She recalled in 1975, "It was like taking a hot coat off in the summertime. The sense of liberation I had at the University of Chicago was exhilarating. I felt very quickly that I could not go back to the old life, and I never did."
Fawn met Bernard Brodie through acquaintances at the University. Born of Latvian-Jewish immigrants and raised in Chicago tenements, Brodie enchanted Fawn. Bernard was similarly struck. They were married August 25, 1936, on the same day that Fawn Brodie received her M.A. in English.
In 1942, Brodie was awarded an Alfred A. Knopf biography fellowship in 1943 to write a biography of Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. Called No Man Knows My History. Brodie's book was published to critical praise in late 1945. The biography made many claims contrary to official LDS Church doctrine about Smith's life and teachings.
Fawn was excommunicated from the LDS Church in May, 1946 for apostasy, which included refusing to edit or alter controversial material in her book. She was unsurprised about the excommunication, and proclaimed that she had lost her faith before her work on the book began. Brodie regretted hurting her parents, but never sought to rejoin the church.
She died of cancer and was cremated. Per her wishes, friends spread her ashes over the Santa Monica Mountains near where she had spent the last 30 years of her life.
A rumor circulated that Brodie asked to be re-baptized in her last days. Actually, Brodie only thanked her brother Thomas for a "priesthood blessing"—a type of special prayer intended to aid her in her illness—that he gave her in a Santa Monica, California hospital December 1980. She also added that it in no way meant she wanted to be taken back into the church—anticipating the rumor, which she "would repudiate...for all time." (Wikipedia)
Cremated, Ashes scattered.
Specifically: Ashes scattered over the Santa Monica Mountains
Created by: Carl W. McBrayer
Record added: Jan 13, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10317032