In late 1853, Parley Pratt received a letter from his brother and fellow member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, Orson Pratt. Orson had committed himself to contribute to the publication of genealogical information on the descendants of their ancestor Willian Pratt, an English Puritan who had migrated to New England in the 1630s, and wanted Parley to contribute to the publication, too.
The compiler of the information, a Congregationalist minister, had asked Orson that he and Parley, known to be prominent religionists, write autobiographical sketches for the planned publication. In reply to Orson, Parley was reluctant, writing that “a mere sketch of the outlines of [my] truly eventful life would occupy several hundred pages”. In subsequent correspondence, Orson pressed Parley, praising Parley’s “interesting, easy, flowing” writing style and observing that if they worked together under the “dictations of the Holy Spirit”, they might “write something that shall hereafter prove a blessing to our brethren”. It would take four more years for Parley to write his autobiography, and it would not be published until 1874.
Parley P. Pratt’s autobiography is one of the great personal stories of early Latter-day Saint church history. It is an eventful and thrilling story of a man’s complete faith in and total commitment to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as the price he paid and the blessings he received for pursuing such a course.
The story presented in Parley’s autobiography has enthralled Latter-day Saint readers from its 1874 publication to the present day and has shaped many Latter-day Saints’ views of early church history.