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Elder Northfield's Home

or, Sacrificed on the Mormon Altar

A. Jennie Bartlett

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 02/2015
Pages: 240
Subject: Fiction
eBook ISBN: 9780803274068


The practice of plural marriage, commonly known as polygamy, stirred intense controversy in postbellum America until 1890, when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first officially abolished the practice. Elder Northfield’s Home, published by A. Jennie Bartlett in 1882, is both a staunchly antipolygamy novel and a call for the sentimental repatriation of polygamy’s victims. Her book traces the fate of a virtuous and educated English immigrant woman, Marion Wescott, who marries a Mormon elder, Henry Northfield. Shocked when her husband violates his promise not to take a second wife, Marion attempts to flee during the night, toddler son in her arms and pulling her worldly possessions in his toy wagon. She returns to her husband, however, and the balance of the novel traces the effects of polygamy on Marion, Henry, and their children; their eventual rejection of plural marriage; and their return to a normal and healthy family structure.   Nicole Tonkovich’s critical introduction includes both historical contextualization and comments on selected primary documents, providing a broader look at the general public’s reception of the practice of polygamy in the nineteenth century.  


A. Jennie Bartlett (1855–1930) was a late nineteenth-century novelist and an advocate for antipolygamy legislation.   Nicole Tonkovich is a professor of literature at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of The Allotment Plot: Alice C. Fletcher, E. Jane Gay, and Nez Perce Survivance (Nebraska, 2012) and other works.