Mabel Clore Collection on Vardis Fisher, 1927-1972  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Clore, Mabel S.
Title
Mabel Clore Collection on Vardis Fisher
Dates
1927-1972 (inclusive)
Quantity
2.0 linear feet, (4 boxes)
2 linear feet (2 boxes)
Collection Number
MSS 002
Summary
Periodical issues with articles by Idaho author Vardis Fisher, articles about him, reviews of his work, bibliographies, advertisements, catalogs, clippings, and other material about Fisher and his writings, collected chiefly by Mabel S. Clore, secretary of Caxton Printers, Caldwell, Idaho.
Repository
Boise State University Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
1910 University Drive
Boise ID
83725
Telephone: 208-426-3958
archives@boisestate.edu
Access Restrictions

Collection is available for research.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Vardis Fisher was born on March 31, 1895, in Annis, Idaho, to a family of Mormon pioneers. He was the first child of a man who preferred the wilderness and a woman who desired civilization. In 1901 Fisher's family moved to a remote river basin home in Southeastern Idaho. The Antelope Hills were totally isolated, and for the next five years (until he was sent to school) Fisher was 'imprisoned by the wilderness" (according to biographer Wayne Chatterton). After graduating from Rigby High School in 1915, Fisher attended the University of Utah, where he married his childhood sweetheart, Leona McMurtrey. At the outset of World War I, Fisher enlisted as an officer candidate in the Air Force, resigned, and was then drafted, serving two years in the Army. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Utah in 1920. With his wife and two sons, he moved to Illinois to pursue graduate work in English Literature at the University of Chicago.

Fisher's writing skills were highly acclaimed by both universities. He received his masters degree in 1922 with a thesis on Daniel Defoe and London low life. His academic accomplishments, however, were overshadowed during this period by the suicide of his wife in 1924. Fisher completed his PhD, magna cum laude, in 1925 and returned with his sons to Salt Lake City, Utah, to assume a teaching career at the University of Utah. Stifled by religious and academic pressures for conventionality and conformity, Fisher resigned in 1928. In search of intellectual freedom, he accepted a position as assistant professor at New York University.

Prior to leaving Utah, he wrote Sonnets to an Imaginary Madonna (1927), a reflection of his first marriage. While in New York, he married Margaret Trusler, a fellow student from the University of Chicago, the same year that his first novel, Toilers of the Hills, was published (1928). During his years in New York City, he developed a close friendship with fellow teacher and author Thomas Wolfe that would eventually be documented in Fisher's essay "Thomas Wolfe As I Knew Him' (1963).

Fisher made a commitment to a writing career and returned to Idaho to live in 1931. His second novel, Dark Bridwell, was published that same year. His next novels have been referred to as the "Vridar Hunter" tetralogy: In Tragic Life (1932), Passions Spin the Plot (1934), We Are Betrayed (1935), and No Villain Need Be (1936). The titles of these works were taken from a sonnet by George Meredith, the English poet, who influenced Fisher's writings and was the subject of his doctoral dissertation at Chicago. The tetralogy, considered by critics as being autobiographical, reflects his memories of the rigid, hard childhood he experienced in the Antelope Hills. Ironically, during this same period Fisher chose to homestead in the remote river bottom country of the Snake River's Hagerman Valley. During the Depression, Fisher accepted the position as the Idaho Director of the WPA writers Project (1935-1939). Under his editorship, the project produced the Idaho guide (1937), The Idaho Encyclopedia (1938), and Idaho Lore (1939).

After the publication of April: A Fable of Love (1937) and Forgive Us Our Virtues: A Comedy of Evasions (1938), Fisher wrote his most famous novel, Children of God, which won the Harper Prize for fiction in 1939. The book is a three-part novel concerning the early history of the Mormon church. Fisher attempted to portray the church impartially even though he had rejected its teachings in his late teens. Following this success, he wrote five other historical novels: City of Illusion (1941), The Mothers (1943), Pemmican: A Novel of the Hudson's Bay Company (1956), Tale of Valor: A Novel of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1958), and Mountain Man (1965).

Fisher and his second wife were divorced in 1939 and the following year he married Opal Laurel Holmes. In 1940, he began to write a series of novels exploring "the evolution of man's soul from beginning to the present day" (Contemporary Authors). The twelve volumes of the Testament of Man series (1943-1960) were philosophical and psychological rather than strictly historical in nature.

Fisher's non-fictional writings include regional works: The Caxton Printers in Idaho (1944) and Gold Rushes and Mining Camps of the Early American West (1968), which he co-authored with his wife, Opal. He wrote Suicide or Murder? (1962), a biography of Meriwether Lewis, and God or Caesar (1953) containing advice for the beginning writer, as well as numerous essays and articles. The 1930s and early 1940s were Fisher's most prolific years for short stories and periodical articles, though he continued to write occasional articles through the 1960s. These shorter works appeared in such diverse journals as Esquire, Coronet, Rocky Mountain Review, and Western Folklore.

After being away from teaching for three decades Fisher was selected as the author in residence at the College of Idaho in 1968. Fisher died at the age of 73 on July 9, 1968, leaving two works in progress, his autobiography and a volume to be called The Western United States, The World's Greatest Physical Wonderland. In 1972 his novel Mountain Man was made into the motion picture Jeremiah Johnson. Directed by Sydney Pollock and starring Robert Redford, it was chosen to represent the United States at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival.

Joseph M. Flora wrote prior to Fisher's death, "He writes in the morning and does hard labor on the farm in the afternoons .... His inspiration comes from the scholarly books with which he surrounds himself and the wilds of the nature around him. The Idaho terrain and Rocky Mountains have nourished Fisher's art from the first to last."

Sources:

Chatterton, Wayne. Vardis Fisher : The Frontier and Regional Works. Boise, Idaho : Boise State College, 1972. (Western Writers Series, number 1)

Contemporary Authors. Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, 1969. v. 5-8. p. 383-385.

Flora, Joseph. Vardis Fisher. New York : Twayne, 1965. (Twayne's United States Authors Series, number 76)

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Mrs. Clore was, for many years, secretary of Caxton Printers in Caldwell, Idaho, publisher of many of Vardis Fisher's books. Her husband, Russell Clore, served as the firm's vice president and treasurer. The donation constitutes their personal collection of Vardis Fisher materials.

The Clore collection consists of early editions of Vardis Fisher's books (autographed and inscribed to the Clores), paperback editions, periodicals containing articles by and about Fisher, and bibliographies, clippings, book reviews, and advertisements collected by Mrs. Clore from the 1920s to 1970s. The collection also contains duplicate galley proofs (uncorrected) of Fisher's novel, The Mothers, the story of the Donner Party.

There are no manuscripts in the collection that might properly be considered Vardis Fisher's own. The largest collection of his own papers (chiefly correspondence and drafts of novels) was deposited in the Beinecke Library at Yale University. A copy of Yale's catalog of their Vardis Fisher collection has been added to the Clore collection.

The Clore collection at Boise State University contains most, but not all, of Vardis Fisher's novels, short stories, poems, non-fiction works, and essays. The most comprehensive bibliography of Vardis Fisher's writings to date was prepared by George Kellogg and published in Western American Literature (volume 5), Spring 1970 issue. That bibliography lists 45 short stories and essays by Fisher and 37 books written or edited by him. The Clore collection contains 43 of these stories and essays and 36 of the books. The collection also contains several periodical articles and anthologized works not listed in Kellogg's bibliography. There are a number of periodical articles about Vardis Fisher in the Clore collection, but only a small percentage of those listed Kellogg's bibliography. The collection's strength lays in writings by Fisher, not about him.

Forms part of the Idaho Writers Archive.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[item description], Mabel Clore Collection on Vardis Fisher, Box [number] Folder [number], Boise State University Special Collections and Archives.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

1:  Biographical materialReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Western Writers Series (Chatterton)
1972
1 2
Fisher of the Antelope Hills (Crandall)
1949
1 3
Miscellaneous

2:  BibliographiesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 4
Kellogg
1969
1 5
Kellogg
1961
1 6
Clore
1 7
Idaho Falls Public Library
1946
1 8
Idaho Falls Public Library
1946

3:  Book reviewsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box Folder
1 9
Children of God
1 10
Darkness and the Deep
1 11
Mountain Man (Jeremiah Johnson)
1 12
Miscellaneous

4:  Writing about Vardis FisherReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 13
Bishop
1937
1 14
Caxton Printers
1939
1 15
Doig
1978
1 16
Duncan
1965
1 17
Flora
1963
1 18
Flora
1969
1 19
Foote
1963
1 20
Holmes
1963
1 21
"Idaho Individualist"
1961
1 22
Kellogg
1967
1 23
Margarick
1963
1 24
North
1947
1 25
Reiter
1963
1 26
Stegner
1939
1 27
Swallow
1959
1 28
Taber, Idaho Yesterdays
1968
1 29
Taber, Pacific Northwest Quarterly
1968

5:  Catalogs and advertisementsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 1
Ablelard Press
2 2
Casanova Press
2 3
Caxton Printers
2 4
Scallawagiana Book
2 5
Pocket Books
1972
2 6
Alan Swallow
2 7
Harry W. Schwartz
2 8
Miscellaneous

6:  MiscellaneousReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 9
Dust jackets
2 10
Galley proofs: The Mothers (I)
1943
2 11
Galley proofs: The Mothers (II)
1943
2 12
Galley proofs: The Mothers (III)
1943
2 13
Galley proofs: The Mothers (IV)
1943
2 14
General
2 15
This Book Collecting Racket (Harry Schwartz)
1943
2 16
Fisher collection at Yale: Catalog
2 17
Fisher collection at WSU: Finding aid
drawer
1
A Literary Map of the United States: Books that Sharpen Perception of the American Scene, Holiday Magazine
1947
See Series IV

7:  Writings by Vardis Fisher in periodicalsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 18
Alan Swallow Interviews...
1965
2 19
Antelope People: The North Family (Poems)
1929
2 20
Antelope People: Slim Scott... (Poems)
1928
2 21
As Death is Lonely
1959
2 22
Authors' Field Day
1934
2 23
Books and I
1936
2 24
Caxton Printers in Idaho
1945
2 26
Charivari
1939
2 26
Children of God, abridged
1940
3 1
Children of God, abridged
1940
3 2
Comment on Vietnam
1966
3 3
Creative Historical Research...
1940
3 4
Crime and the Great Society
1967
3 5
Darkness and the Deep, abridged
1943
An Essay for Men
1936
3 7
Fifteen Against Death
1943
3 8
Hometown Revisited...
1949
3 9
Idaho Primitive
1937
3 10
Joe Burt's Wife
1934
3 11
Laughter
1936
3 12
A Legend of Red Hair
1935
3 13
The Lingering Frontier
1966
3 14
Mr. Graham Takes a Bath
1945
3 15
The Mormons
1944
3 16
The Mother
1933
3 17
The Mothers, abridged
1943
3 18
My Experiences with Thomas Wolfe
1951
4 1
Myths about Authors
1933
4 2
Novel Writing is My Trade
1950
4 3
The Novelist and his Background
1953
4 4
The Novelist and his Characters
1963
4 5
Old Timers
1937
4 6
Overalls or Tails?
1938
4 7
Overalls or Tails?: Reaction
1938
4 8
A Parable for Librarians...
1939
4 9
A Pinch of Advice
1940
4 10
Portrait of Towser
1936
4 11
Profanity
1929
4 12
The Scarecrow
1934
4 13
Sonnets to an Imaginary Madonna I-X (Poems)
1927
4 14
The Storm
1947
4 15
Thomas Wolfe and Maxwell Perkins
1951
4 16
Thousand Springs Valley
1952
4 17
A Trivial Excursion in Modesty
1942
4 18
Vardis Fisher Comments...
1963
4 19
The Western Novel
1964
4 20
The Western Writer and the Eastern Establishment
1967
4 21
A Word About Censors
1937

8:  Writings by Vardis Fisher in newspapersReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
4 22
Flying Southern Idaho
1936
4 23
Why Should Anyone Leave Idaho...?
1938
4 24
Newspaper Columns
1943-1950

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • American literature--20th century
  • American literature--Idaho
  • Authors, American--Idaho
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Fisher , Vardis, 1895-1968 (author)