James E. Talmage (1862–1933)


James E. Talmage (1862–1933)

James Edward Talmage was 13 years old when his family emigrated from their native England and settled in Provo, Utah.

Intelligent and thirsty for knowledge, James was a part-time member of the faculty of the Brigham Young Academy in Provo, Utah, by the time he was 17. He went on to study chemistry and geology at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Membership in many prominent scientific societies gave James Talmage access to important people and publications and helped him combat much of the prejudice faced by Latter-day Saints at the time.

In 1888 he married Mary May Booth. They became the parents of eight children. From 1894 to 1897 he was president of the University of Deseret in Salt Lake City (now the University of Utah). During that time he bought one of the popular new chain-driven bicycles and rode it often. One evening he arrived home an hour late for dinner, bruised, bloodied, and dirty. Near his home was a single-plank bridge across a ditch. Normally, he dismounted and crossed on foot. But this time he felt he could ride across. He kept at it, crash after crash, until he mastered the maneuver.

Elder Talmage was an effective lecturer, and some of his talks and lessons became the basis of some of the books for which he is well-known, including The Articles of Faith. Prior to his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1911, the First Presidency had asked him to write a book on the life and ministry of the Savior. Later, a room was set aside in the Salt Lake Temple where Elder Talmage could concentrate on his writing. His 700-page book, Jesus the Christ, was published in 1915 and has been reprinted several times since then.

Below: The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1921. Elder Talmage is on the back row, second from the left.