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Vardis Alvero Fisher

Birthplace: Annis, Jefferson County, ID, United States
Death: July 09, 1968 (73)
Hagerman, Gooding County, ID, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Joseph Oliver Fisher and Temperance Fisher
Husband of Leona Fisher
Brother of Vivian Ezra Fisher and viola Irene Fisher

Managed by: Lary Marler
Last Updated:

About Vardis Fisher

Vardis Alvero Fisher (March 31, 1895 – July 9, 1968) was an American writer from Idaho who wrote popular historical novels of the Old West. After studying at the University of Utah and the University of Chicago, Fisher taught English at the University of Utah and then at the Washington Square College of New York University until 1931. He worked with the Federal Writers' Project to write the Works Project Administration The Idaho Guide, which was published in 1937. In 1939, Fisher wrote Children of God, a historical novel concerning the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The novel won the Harper Prize. In 1940, Fisher relocated to Hagerman, Idaho, and spent the next twenty years writing the 12-volume Testament of Man (1943–1960) series of novels, depicting the history of humans from cavemen to civilization. Fisher's novel Mountain Man (1965) was adapted in the film Jeremiah Johnson (1972).

Fisher is often grouped with disaffected Mormon writers in Mormon fiction. Leonard Arrington and his graduate student John Haupt wrote that Fisher was sympathetic towards Mormonism, an idea that Fisher's widow, Opal Laurel Holmes, repudiated strongly. A more recent paper by Michael Austin suggests that Fisher's work was influenced by residual "scars" of his family heritage and Mormon upbringing and that these scars resulted in his incorporating into many of his novels the theme of a religious unbeliever trying to find ways to live within a religious community.



Toilers of the Hills (1928)
Dark Bridwell (1931)
April: A Fable of Love (1937)
Odyssey of a Hero (1937)
Forgive Us Our Virtues: A Comedy of Evasions (1938)
Children of God (1939)
City of Illusion (1941)
The Mothers: An American Saga of Courage (1943)
Pemmican: A Novel of the Hudson's Bay Company (1956)
Tale Of Valor: A Novel of the Louis and Clark Expedition (1958)
Mountain Man: A Novel of Male and Female in the Early American West (1965)

Vridar Hunter tetralogy:

In Tragic Life (1932)
Passions Spin the Plot (1934)
We Are Betrayed (1935)
No Villain Need Be (1936)

Testament of Man series:

Darkness and the Deep (1943)
The Golden Rooms (1944)
Intimations of Eve (1946)
Adam and the Serpent (1947)
The Divine Passion (1948)
The Valley of Vision (1951)
The Island of the Innocent (1952)
Jesus Came Again: A Parable (1956)
A Goat for Azazel (1956)
Peace Like a River (1957)
My Holy Satan (1958)
Orphans in Gethsemane (pb two vols: The Great Confession and For Passion, for Heaven) (1960)

Short stories

"Love and Death" (1959)


The Neurotic Nightingale (1935) [essays]
Idaho: A Guide in Word and Picture (1937), as Federal Writers' Project, state director
The Idaho Encyclopedia (1938)
Idaho Lore (1939)
The Caxton Printers in Idaho (1944) [19]
God or Caesar? The Writing of Fiction for Beginners (1953)
Suicide or Murder: The Strange Death of Meriwether Lewis (1962)
Thomas Wolfe As I Knew Him and Other Essays (1963)
Gold Rushes and Mining Camps of the Early American West (1968), with Opal Laurel Holmes


Sonnets to an Imaginary Madonna (1927)


Vardis Fisher was born in Annis, Idaho and lived in the Hagerman area. His schooling included the University of Utah and the University of Chicago. He not only attended these institutions, but was honored to teach there as well.

Mr. Fisher is one of Idaho's most prolific authors with nearly 40 titles to his credit. His best-known works include "Children of God," a history of Mormonism, and "The Mothers," a recount of the Donner Party. He also wrote a 12 volume series of novels on mankind's spiritual and intellectual history called "The Testament of Man."

In 1935, Vardis Fisher directed the Federal Writer’s Project in Idaho and almost single-handedly wrote the "Idaho Guide" and the "Idaho Encyclopedia."

Mr. Fisher died in July 1968 in Hagerman, Idaho. He was inducted into the Idaho's Hall of Fame in 1995.

by Dee Klenck

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Vardis Fisher's Timeline

March 31, 1895
Annis, Jefferson County, ID, United States
July 9, 1968
Age 73
Hagerman, Gooding County, ID, United States