Death of Richard Cracroft

Everyone in the world of Mormon letters will be saddened to hear of the death of Richard Cracroft yesterday, September 20, 2012. A giant has left us. For more details, see the Deseret News obituary.

An outdated entry from the Mormon Liberature Database reads as follows:

Richard H. Cracroft, professor of English at Brigham Young University, is one of the most important and active critics of Mormon literature. Having edited (with Neal Lambert) two anthologies of Mormon Literature, A Believing People: Literature of the Latter-day Saints (1974, 1979–see below), and 22 Young Mormon Writers (Provo, Utah: Communications Workshop, 1975), Cracroft continues to write numerous reviews of Mormon literature in a regular column in BYU Magazine and in other venues of Mormon criticism. A past president of the Association for Mormon Letters, he continues to teach Literature of the Latter-day Saints at Brigham Young University where he currently serves as the director for the Center for Christian Values in Literature. In 2000 Cracroft was granted honorarly lifetime membership in the Association for Mormon Letters.

We invite you to share your reminiscences and tributes.

About Jonathan Langford

Hi! I'm the coordinator for the AML blog, a critic and reviewer of Mormon literature and sf&f, and an aspiring creative writer with one published novel. To contact me about the AML blog, email jonathan AT langfordwriter DOT com.
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13 Responses to Death of Richard Cracroft

  1. I never met Cracroft, but both my wife and her grandfather took classes from him. The scope of his service over decades is impressive.

  2. I enjoyed him as a professor (I had him for 19th-century American lit during my BYU master’s program), as an AML patriarch, and as a cheerleader for Zarahemla Books.

  3. Th. says:


    I never met him either, but have thought of him often and am grateful that he showed us the way. Without him, would any of us be here today?

  4. Richard’s faith is his legacy. Yes, he was a giant. I was so fortunate to have the privilege of close contact these last two years. When he wrote the introduction to my FIRES OF JERUSALEM, I was able to visit him in his home. The last time I saw him was a couple of months ago, when I took him a final copy of the novel. I knew he was close–it was evident. He took my hand and said, “Good-bye, Marilyn.” And there were tears in his eyes.

  5. Wm says:

    To any extent that I stand (in the field of Mormon letters), Brother Cracroft’s shoulders are among the tallest and steadiest I stand on.

  6. Scott Hales says:

    I’ve always been impressed with Professor Cracroft’s capacities as a reader. His essays and columns all demonstrate the breadth of his familiarity with books–especially books by Mormons. I imagine he left behind an impressive library of Mormon literature. I hope it finds a good home. I bet his books have fantastic marginalia.

    I’m not sure one can do Mormon literary criticism without acknowledging his pioneering footprint.

  7. Gideon Burton says:

    Richard collected his writings just before passing away. Here are excerpts from the email that he sent around. He was making available his writings chiefly in CD format. I’m sure the family would still accept orders. Contact me if you wish to get the details on ordering. I’m so glad he put something together!


    Collected writings of Richard Cracroft

    Vol. 1–Book A (324 pp.), Stories From A Mormon Life: Stories, tales, anecdotes about Dick’s grandparents and their emigration from England; and about Ralph and Grace, Laury, Paul, Helen, and Dick; and tories from Dick’s youth–and Sammy Park and Dick’s friendship; scouting, teachers, football days. This is not a biography. This volume is a pretty good dip into family history of Ralph and Grace Cracroft’s parents (George and Clara Williams Cracroft, and John and Sarah Ann Holton White). $12.50 per each spiral-bound copy.

    Vol. 1–Book B (411 pp.), Stories From A Mormon Life, continued.: Stories from Dick’s Swiss-Austrian Mission and journal; meeting Prophets; serving as morning seminary teacher, bishop, stake president, mission president, MTC branch president, BYU marrieds ward bishop. The stories in these two volumes will be the most engaging for you. And pictures to boot! You’ll want both parts (A & B) of this first volume. $12.50 per spiral-bound copy.

    Vol. 2 (560 pp.), Essays: The Literature of the Latter-day Saints. Previously published essays on Reading Spiritually, 19th Century Mormon Literature and 20th and 21st Century Mormon letters. Essays on The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s First Vision in Literature, Brigham Young on the Novel, Eliza R. Snow, B.H. Roberts, Samuel Taylor, Gerald Lund, Eugene England, among others. These essays will be of various interest to you (they are the heart of my Mormon literature career). $12.50 per spiral-bound copy.

    Vol. 3 (415 pp.), A Literary Rendezvous in the American West: Essays on American, British, German and European Writers. Nationally published essays on Wallace Stegner, Thomas Wolfe, Mark Twain, Karl May, and several Early Western Figures. I am proud of these professional essays in literary criticism, but I recognize, realistically, that most of you will probably want to pass on these.essays. (Caution: Just remember that evidence in His Works suggests that God is an English Major with an Engineering minor.) $12.50 per spiral-bound copy.

    Vol. 4 (498 pp.), The Spoken Word: Selected Sermons, Speeches, and Talks at Stake Conferences. Commencements, Graduations, and to various Groups and Clubs, Farewells, Funerals, selected from about 2500 talks given since 1959.

  8. Annette says:

    I was so sad to hear about this. Dr. Cracroft was one of my favorite professors during my English major studies. He made the class as fun and interesting as it was challenging. I loved the random trivia about hymns he’d throw in, or his drawings depicting things like the Gothic and Romantic eras.

    About 5 years ago, I wrote a blog post about 2 memorable parts of the class I took from him, winter semester of 1995:

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