Phyllis Barber: Mormon Author

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Phyllis Barber Mormon Author

Phyllis Barber is an award-winning author of stories, articles, essays, and novels. She also taught fiction and creative nonfiction in the MFA in Writing Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. In 2005 she was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

She was born Phyllis Nelson in then Basic Townsite, Nevada (now Henderson). She lived in Boulder City, Nevada until the age of eleven, and then moved to Las Vegas until she graduated from high school. She attended Brigham Young University until she married and moved with her husband, David, to Palo Alto, California. There she completed a degree in music with a piano emphasis and a minor in political science. After the birth of her four sons, she began writing and published with Utah Holiday magazine for ten years. She took creative writing classes at the University of Utah and received her MFA in Writing degree from Vermont College. Her first published book was a juvenile reader for a company in Provo, Utah, (Smiley Snake’s Adventure, 1980).

She is the author of a memoir trilogy: How I Got Cultured: A Nevada Memoir (awarded the 1991 Associated Writing Program Award for Creative Nonfiction and the 1993 Award for Best Nonfiction from the Association for Mormon Letters); Raw Edges: A Memoir (a 2010 Outstanding University Press Book by Foreword Reviews’ print magazine); and To the Mountain: One Mormon Woman’s Search for Spirit (two of the essays were featured in Best American Essays, 2010 and 2011, and one in Best American Travel Writing, 2011). She has also written the novel And the Desert Shall Blossom (1991); short story collection The School of Love (1990); Parting the Veil: Stories from a Mormon Imagination (1999); and children’s book Legs: The Story of a Giraffe (1991).

She was named a semi-finalist in the Leapfrog Fiction Contest in June 2017 for her novel currently in progress. In 2016, she won a lifetime award from the Smith-Pettit Foundation and the Association for Mormon Letters for Outstanding Contribution to Mormon Letters. 

After her marriage to David Barber ended in 1997, she married Bill Traeger. They live in Park City, Utah. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.