The Mormon literary world is mourning Elouise M. Bell, who died at age eighty-two on September 30 in Edmond, Oklahoma. Bell taught English literature at Brigham Young University for over thirty years, authored several books and essays, and was a guest columnist with the Salt Lake Tribune. She also published in Dialogue, Sunstone, and BYU Studies. Her essay “Is there Beauty in Your Bucket?” appears in Signature Books’s newest title, Moth & Rust, released this week.
Bell authored two books with Signature, Only When I Laugh, in 1990, and Madame Ridiculous and Lady Sublime, a decade later. In 1980 she edited excerpts from the diaries of Carol Lynn Pearson in Will I Ever Forget This Day? Her career at BYU began in 1963, and during her tenure she received the Karl G. Maeser Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Alcuin Award for excellence in teaching. She retired in 1994. Outside of the university she served on the Utah Governor’s Commission on Child Abuse.
An active feminist, Bell worked as an editor and columnist for Network magazine and received the Eve Award, given annually by the Mormon Women’s Forum. She wrote and performed a one-woman play called Aunt Patty Remembers, which she based on the life of Patty Bartlett Sessions, an early Mormon midwife, diarist, and plural wife.
After her retirement, Bell moved first to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and later to Edmond. In 2015 she married Nancy R. Jefferis, her partner of sixteen years.
A memorial service is set tentatively for November 2. Details will be posted here once they are available. For more on the life of Elouise Bell, see online tributes from the Association for Mormon Letters and Salt Lake Tribune.