Vardis Fisher, novelist, essayist, and short story writer, was born on March 31, 1895, in Annis, Idaho. He was raised in the Antelope Hills of eastern Idaho, graduated from Rigby High School, and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah in 1920. He received a master's and doctorate from the University of Chicago. After teaching at the University of Utah and New York University, he returned to Idaho in 1931 to devote full time to writing. During the Depression Fisher served as the director of the Federal Writers Project in Idaho. Under his editorship, the project produced the acclaimed Idaho guide and other works. In 1940 Fisher married Opal Laurel Holmes, his third wife. They built a home in the Hagerman valley of southern Idaho and lived there until Vardis Fisher's death in 1968. A fuller biographical sketch of Vardis Fisher can be found in the finding aid to the Library's Clore collection (MSS 2).
Opal Fisher was born in Laurens, Iowa, on October l4, 1913. Raised by her grandparents, she met Vardis Fisher in 1936 when she went to work for the Federal Writers Project in Boise. After Fisher's death in 1968 she moved back to Boise to devote her life to protecting Fisher's literary reputation and reprinting his novels under her own imprint, Opal Laurel Holmes (her maiden name). Vivacious and strong-willed, Mrs. Fisher was not loath to castigate publicly scholars whose interpretation of Fisher's life and work did not coincide with her own. Nor did she shrink from doing battle with publishers in her efforts to recover publication rights to her husband's works. In December 1972 she presided over the Boise premiere of the motion picture Jeremiah Johnson, a movie based in part on Fisher's novel Mountain Man . The premiere was attended by both director Sydney Pollack and its star, Robert Redford. Between 1972 and 1977, Mrs. Fisher reprinted several of Fisher's books but did not have much success in distributing them. Tim Woodward, author of a biography of Vardis Fisher, interviewed her several times in 1985, but she was little heard from publicly after that. Opal Fisher lived the last years of her life as a recluse in her home in the Boise Foothills. She died at home in 1994, surrounded by thousands of copies of Vardis Fisher's books.
From the guide to the Vardis and Opal Fisher Papers, 1934-1996, (Boise State University Library)