the Biography of a Virginal Mind

This is the first of a series of posts about Mrs. Eddy. The biography of a virginal mind, by Francis Dakin. For all posts on this topic, see the tag the Biography of a Virginal Mind

It must be borne in mind that my design is not to write histories, but lives. — Plutarch

9016d250fca041962c6a9010.LI’ve started reading Edwin Franden Dakin’s biography, Mrs. Eddy. The biography of a virginal mind, published in 1929. I’m reading a well-worn second hand copy that was “released for sale” from an East Coast library/historical society. Dakin’s biography got solid reviews in its day (1) and has been highly recommended by several ex-Christian Scientists. It is my understanding that Dakin’s biography was not vetted or authorized by The Mother Church, and I look forward to seeing an “outsiders” perspective.

In a nutshell (aka the GoogleBooks summery), the Biography of a Virginal Mind is

The story of the life of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement and the only American woman to establish a worldwide religion. Although controversy surrounded Mrs. Eddy’s Christian Science movement over the issue of whether its origins were hers alone or actually existed in the teaching and practice of Phineas P. Quimby, she is still credited for using her strong organizational skills to have this healing message heard round the world. One of her last and greatest accomplishments was founding The Christian Science Monitor in 1908, a newspaper respected around the world for its editorial integrity and news insight. (1)

The book is divided into five parts, and each part is further sub-divided into sections. The five main sections are as follows:

  1. A Quest for Minerva’s Parentage
  2. A Book to Conjure with
  3. A Woman Becomes a Deity
  4. The Secret Place of the Most High
  5. The Twilight of a God

This will be presented as a series of posts summarizing Dakin’s work, and sharing thoughts and insights.

I strongly suspect I’m going to be turning to wikipedia to make sense of some of Dakin’s references, it has been a while since we glossed over Plutarch and Minerva in school — if they were covered at all (3). I will try and include end notes and links for obscure references whenever possible. All posts will be tagged the Biography of a Virginal Mind.

End notes


One thought on “the Biography of a Virginal Mind

  1. Joseph Woodbury III says:

    “[…]whether its origins were hers alone or actually existed in the teaching and practice of Phineas P. Quimby […]

    Mary & Gilbert Were Sweethearts

    June 4, 1882: Gilbert lay dying on his bed. His wife Mary sat by the bedside looking anxiously at the clock . The previous day Gilbert had been quite well and engaged in the many secretarial and practical duties of the household that Mary routinely entrusted him with, but that evening after supper he began to feel dreadfully ill.

    His breathing became gradually more laboured as he started to speak in a weak, faltering voice and Mary looked at him blankly.

    “What is it Gilbert, my dear.”

    “I have something to tell you, Mother. Before I pass…

    “Hush, hush sweet Gilbert. Be still, don’t speak and know that Mother is working Her purpose out on your behalf… ”

    “No Mother, I must tell you this. Yesterday I was negligent in my duties, and disobeyed you concerning never ever looking at your papers. Animal magnetism seized the opportunity to invaded my thinking… When you were out on your drive with Mr. Frye I went to your room to tidy and dust, as usual. The drawer in your desk that you always keep locked was open. Out of curiosity I looked at the piece of paper that was on the top of your manuscripts. It was a letter to you written by Dr. Quimby in 1865. He wrote that he intended to call his system of mind-cure Christian Science.”

    Mary’s expression remained blank as she impatiently regarded the clock again.

    Gilbert asked for a a cup of cold water but Mary lovingly declined his request on the grounds of chemicalization. He continued, his voice perceptively weaker, “As you have always said that the name Christian Science came to you through an impartation of Divine Mind after the Great Fall on the Ice in Lynn in 1866, I know that it is mortal mind that is deceiving me into thinking I saw such a letter. Please forgive me, Mother.”

    “Of course, Gilbert. But as you know, anything that shows Mother as less than perfect must be a false claim. And you know full well that the belief in sin must be punished, until that belief is conquered. The Cross before the Crown, dear one. You did something very naughty. Your sin was uncovered….”

    And then she took hold of Gilbert’s hand, and in a voice like Baby Jane Hudson’s, gently smacking out each word, said “Calvin saw you through the windeh.” Then looking at him with a loving smirk added, “And that’s why we put arsenic in your din-din last night…”


    It’s well-known that Joan Crawford was a CS, but Bette Davis also had some family connection, and stayed in a CS sanitorium in the 1940s.

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