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Fawn M. Brodie

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Author

The Resume

    (September 15, 1915-January 10, 1981)
    Born in Ogden, Utah
    Birth name was Fawn McKay
    Wrote 'No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith' (1945), 'Thaddeus Stevens: Scourge of the South' (1959), 'The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton' (1967), 'Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History' (1974), and 'Richard Nixon: The Shaping of His Character' (1981)
    Excommunicated from the Mormon church after publication of 'No Man Knows My History'

Why she might be annoying:

    She described herself as 'inclined to fall into moments of black despair.'
    While working on his biography, she had dreams in which she and Thomas Jefferson became 'man and wife.'
    Much of her evidence for claiming that Jefferson had an affair with his slave Sally Hemmings was 'psychological,' such as his frequent use of the word 'mulatto' to describe the soil during a European trip reflecting his unease with their relationship.
    Actually, mulatto was a standard 19th-century description for yellow-brown soil.
    One of the editors at W.W. Norton, her publisher, said, 'Doesn't she know about making the theory fit the facts instead of trying to explain the facts to fit the theory? It's pretty fascinating, like working out a detective story, but she doesn't play fair.'

Why she might not be annoying:

    She grew up in a house without indoor plumbing.
    She suffered two miscarriages.
    Even critics who questioned her accuracy tended to praise her writing style.
    Decades after her death, DNA evidence showed she had almost certainly been correct about Jefferson and Hemmings.

Credit: C. Fishel


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Year In Review:

    In 2021, Out of 4 Votes: 100% Annoying
    In 2020, Out of 3 Votes: 100% Annoying