Mrs. Eddy as I Knew Her in 1870
Bancroft, Samuel Putnam. Mrs. Eddy as I Knew Her in 1870. Boston: Press of Geo. H. Ellis Co., 1923.
Bancroft’s story of Mary Baker Eddy’s life between the years 1870 and 1875, ‘as [he] knew her,’ represents an unusual mix of profound admiration, tempered with an honest critique of her strengths and weaknesses at that time. “Beyond a question, there is no woman of the present time about whom so many unkind things have been said and written … from my statements, the manuscripts from which I studied and her letters to me, you may form your own opinion of her” (5). This is the period in which Eddy completed the first edition of Science and Health, and which is not otherwise well documented. These were formative years for Eddy, and Bancroft affirms that his collection does not reflect her mature work. He raises a few topics warranting special attention, because they shed light on Eddy’s personality and growth: her attitude toward her own birthday (a desire to be better appreciated by her followers), their mutual failure to establish Bancroft’s healing practice, and her excessive fear of ‘malicious animal magnetism’ during that period of her life. Now published only in the format of a loose-leaf notebook, Bancroft’s ‘book’ consists of his collection of letters from Eddy (his teacher) to him, his class notes, and his explanatory narrative.