Mary Baker Eddy seated at her desk at Pleasant View, early 1900s. (P00055) © CSBD.
Throughout her life and in her writings, Mary Baker Eddy discouraged personal adulation. She believed that people would find her true character and purpose in her writings and a life lived for humanity.
In later years, however, responding to the curiosity of the public and press about her life, Eddy eventually wrote a short volume titled Retrospection and Introspection. Portions of this work first appeared as part of a pamphlet in the mid-1880s and was expanded, edited, and then published in its present form in 1891. Read Retrospection and Introspection online.
Retrospection and Introspection shares many insights, but its character as a spiritual autobiography is keenly illustrated when she writes, “Mere historic incidents and personal events are frivolous and of no moment, unless they illustrate the ethics of Truth.” She also used Retrospection and Introspection to reflect on her youth, her experiences as a healer and author, and the publication of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Another of Eddy’s autobiographical works, Footprints Fadeless, was composed between 1901 and 1902 largely as a reply to one of her critics. It is an unfinished and unedited manuscript that she chose not to publish at the time based on the advice of her lawyers.
Footprints Fadeless furnishes a glimpse of what Eddy faced as a reformer and as a woman who introduced bold new concepts to nineteenth century society and beyond. Of these challenges, she writes in Footprints Fadeless, “I have faced the destiny of a discoverer and founder from first to last.”
Mary Baker Eddy, Speaking for Herself, published in October 2002, collects both autobiographical works in one anthology and marks the first publication of Footprints Fadeless in its entirety, with only minor editing of punctuation and spelling. Additionally, the new book includes an introduction by Jana K. Riess, Religion Book Review Editor for Publishers Weekly, which places Eddy’s autobiographies in historical context, giving a sense of her times and how her lifework was viewed then—and now. Photographs throughout the text and notes at the end of the book provide important background information.