Josephine Spencer

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Josephine Spencer (April 30, 1861 - October 28, 1928) published over 100 poems and over 75 short stories, primarily in regional and religious publications of Utah though also in national publications such as The Magazine of Poetry and Literary Review. Beginning in the 1890s, "Spencer was hired as the Deseret News society and literary editor, a job she held for decades." [1] Spencer never married. She was active in civic organizations such as Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. She moved to California at the end of her life, probably working for the Pasadena Star.[2] The bulk of Spencer's work is typical of the Home Literature style of LDS literature, characterized by didacticism and stringent morality. At the end of her life, however, she published "Little Mother," a reworking of her 1910 story "To Keep" and "with one stunning rewrite, Spencer broke out of Home Literature's safety and wrestled with sensitive questions about mothering, family relationships, gender roles, and ultimately, faith in God."[3] She died five months after its publication.

The sole collection of her work to-date, The Senator from Utah and Other Tales of the Wasatch, was published in 1895 in Salt Lake City by George Q. Cannon & Sons.[4]


  1. ^ Author bio accompanying Spencer's short story "Little Mother" in Irreantum 9.2/10.1 (2007-2008)
  2. ^ Author bio accompanying Spencer's short story "Little Mother" in Irreantum 9.2/10.1 (2007-2008)
  3. ^ "Wrestling with LDS Motherhood: Evolving Feminism in Josephine Spencer's "To Keep" and "Little Mother" by Kylie Nielson Turley in Irreantum 9.2/10.1 (2007-2008)
  4. ^ Mormon Literature Database