Samuel W. Taylor

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Samuel W. Taylor
Born Samuel Woolley Taylor
(1907-02-05)February 5, 1907
Provo, Utah, U.S.
Died September 26, 1997(1997-09-26) (aged 90)
Occupation Novelist, scriptwriter, and historian
Spouse Gay Dimick
Relatives John W. Taylor (father)
Janet Maria Woolley (mother)
John Taylor (paternal grandfather)

Samuel Woolley Taylor (February 5, 1907 – September 26, 1997) was an American novelist, scriptwriter, and historian.


Taylor was born in Provo, Utah to Janet "Nettie" Maria Woolley and John W. Taylor, the son of John Taylor, the late president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Samuel's father was a former member of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, having left in 1905 in protest over the church's recent abandonment of polygamy. Despite his father's ecclesiastical history and excommunication in 1911, Samuel was raised in the LDS Church. He later wrote a biography of his father called Family Kingdom, and one of his grandfather titled The Kingdom or Nothing.[1]

In the late 1920s Taylor attended Brigham Young University (BYU) studying journalism.[1] He became editor of the student newspaper Y News, in which he also wrote a weekly column called "Taylored Topics." After covering a story about bootleggers on campus, Taylor was questioned by school administration to divulge his sources, but he refused. After a temporary suspension, he returned to his previous position with the paper, and returned to upsetting administration with his writing.[2] After six suspensions, he later recalled that he could "take a hint" and dropped out of BYU.[3] By then he had already published five articles in nationally distributed magazines.[2] He decided to "escape" Utah and followed Gay Dimick, a fellow BYU student, back to her native California. They married there in 1934 and established their longtime home in Redwood City.[1][2]

In World War II, he served as an officer in the Army Air Force public relations office in the European theater of war.

He was awarded an honorary lifetime membership by the Association for Mormon Letters in 1994.


Film scripts and adaptations[edit]

In 1942, the first film based on one of Taylor's stories, The Man Who Returned to Life, was released. This was later followed in 1951 by The Man with My Face based on his novel of the same name.

His first foray into screenwriting began with Bait in 1954.

In contrast to the serious nature of these films, Taylor was also the author of two short stories, published in Liberty, on which the Disney movies The Absent-Minded Professor, Flubber, and Son of Flubber were based.

He is sometimes incorrectly credited as the writer of Hitchcock's 1958 film Vertigo, though that screenplay was actually written by Samuel A. Taylor.[4]

General novels[edit]

Those novels not dealing specifically with Mormonism:

  • The Grinning Gismo, A. a. Wyn Inc, 1951.
  • The Man with My Face, 1948
  • Take My Advice, Mr. President, Taylor Trust, 1996, ISBN 1-56684-344-8.
  • Uranium Fever, With Raymond Taylor, Macmillan Company, 1970

Latter-day Saint works[edit]

Biography and history
  • Family Kingdom, New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1951, ISBN 0-914740-14-8.
  • I Have Six Wives, New York: Greenberg, 1956. (based on the life of Rulon C. Allred)
  • Vineyard by the Bay, San Mateo, 1968. (uncredited; history of the LDS Church in the San Francisco Bay Area)[5][6]
  • Nightfall at Nauvoo, New York: Macmillan, 1971 ISBN 0-380-00247-7.
  • The Kingdom or Nothing, New York: Macmillan, 1976, ISBN 0026166003.
    (republished as The Last Pioneer, Signature Books, 1999, ISBN 1-56085-115-5)
  • Rocky Mountain Empire, New York: Macmillan, 1978, ISBN 0026166100.
  • The John Taylor Papers (2 vols.), Redwood City, Cal: Taylor Trust, 1984.
  • Taylor-made Tales, Murray, Utah: Aspen Books, 1994, ISBN 1-56236-216-X.
Humorous fiction
  • Heaven Knows Why!, New York: A.A. Wyn, 1948.
    Mormon comedy set in Utah, originally published as serials in Collier's magazine under the title "The Mysterious Way". Has been called the funniest piece of fiction written on Mormon culture.[8][9]


Taylor was an early proponent of a Mormon literature in essays such as "Peculiar People, Positive Thinkers and the Prospects of Mormon Literature" (Dialogue, 1967) and "Little Did She Realize: Writing for the Mormon Market" (Dialogue, 1969), wherein he decried the current state of the literature and called for greater artistry and realism. Taylor continued to publish criticism related to Mormon culture in Dialogue as well as Sunstone magazine.


  1. ^ a b c "Biographical Sketch". Raymond and Samuel Taylor Correspondence, (1966-1972). Logan: Special Collections & Archives, Utah State University. Archived from the original on 2010-06-23. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  2. ^ a b c Bergera, Gary James; Priddis, Ronald (1985). "Chapter 6: Student Government, Social Clubs, Newspapers". Brigham Young University: A House of Faith. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-34-6. OCLC 12963965. 
  3. ^ Cracroft 2001, p. 71
  4. ^ Bailey, S.P. (July 16, 2006). "Mormon Lit: Who Was Samuel W. Taylor?". A Motley Vision. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^
  7. ^ Taylor-Made Tales is autobiographical with "very few of the elements of fiction". Austin, Michael (August 12, 1995). "Taylor-Made Tales". Association for Mormon Letters. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  8. ^ Cracroft, Richard H. (May–June 1980). "Freshet in the Dearth: Samuel W. Taylor's Heaven Knows Why and Mormon Humor" (PDF). Sunstone. 5 (3): 32. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  9. ^ Parkin, Scott (July 18, 2002). "Heaven Knows Why! [Review]". Association for Mormon Letters. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 


External links[edit]