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10/24/2010

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Craig Beardsley

It is astonishing that a single collection contains so many issues of a rarity. In my effort to see as many significant collections on Christian Science as possible over the course of thirty some years I’ve come across this item only once.

Interestingly, after the printing of this sketch, another seven years elapsed before any other biographical sketch of Mrs. Eddy was to appear, to the best of my knowledge, and it wasn’t until the turn of the century that articles began to appear in the press. Public interest was sparked with the Joseph Pulitzer-fueled campaign to investigate Mrs. Eddy and the rivalry his New York World was waging with McClure’s Magazine to scoop a story that yellow journalism needed to fabricate to satiate a growing appetite for sensationalism which was to culminate with the Next Friends Suit, and with that the polemics ensued. Because Mrs. Eddy herself was so inextricably connected to Christian Science, she became a lightning rod of mythic proportions for discourse on the movement, and the furor that occasioned the public interest made for a chicken-and-the-egg perplexity—which came first, the publicity, or the public fascination? By this time the controversy was defined, and, in decades to come, the all-or-nothing nature of the subject matter would continue to leave little space for any opinion other than pro or con. As of today, not counting newspaper articles and other ephemera nor full length biographies, biographical sketches number in the several hundreds, conservatively, and the high number of post-mortem contributions attest to the enduring interest in her life.

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