35 years ago today - Jun 9, 1985.

Bishoprics in Idaho, Utah, and Arizona receive telephoned instructions from church headquarters early Sunday morning not to invite Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, co-authors of a biography on Emma Smith, to speak on historical topics in church meetings. Neither Linda nor Val is officially informed of this decision.

At their own request Linda and Jack meet with Elders Neal A. Maxwell and Dallin H. Oaks, who tell her that "some aspects of the portrayal of Joseph Smith" are the problem. The month before, the book has won the best book award from the Mormon History Association and the John Whitmer Historical Association. It later co-wins the prestigious $10,000 Evans Biography Award, sharing the honor with Richard L. Bushman. BYU president and future general authority Jeffrey R. Holland presents the award.

Linda feels particularly hurt by this decision because of what appear to be misrepresentations of cause. (Because the instructions are transmitted verbally, reports that reach her of what is said in various bishopric meetings vary widely.) One of the frequently repeated charges is that she "is going around peddling the book at sacrament meetings." In fact Linda has spoken at only one sacrament meeting (in the first week the book came out) and then decided it was crucial to speak only in settings where people could ask questions. As a matter of policy, she does not have copies of her book available for sale at the firesides she gives and asks those who introduce her not to refer to her as the book's coauthor. These instructions are not always followed.

The ban, which lasts for ten months, promptly triples sales. The book is reprinted seven times by Doubleday. In 1992 the University of Illinois Press buys the copyright for $4,000, reportedly the highest price Illinois ever paid for reprint rights.

[Anderson, Lavina Fielding, "The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A Contemporary Chronology," Dialogue, Vol.26, No.1]

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