Inscriptions in Mary Baker Eddy’s books

Inscription from Eddy’s copy of Cruden’s Concordance

Inscription from Eddy’s copy of Cruden’s Concordance, 1872. B00156. Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library.

Mary Baker Eddy received books as gifts throughout her life. In her later years, when she was well-known, these presents came from many parts of the world. Looking through the collections, we’ve found that the inscriptions in some of these volumes offer a great opportunity for digging deeper into a fascinating life story.

This copy of Alexander Cruden’s A Complete Concordance to the Holy Scriptures predates her later prominence. It bears this inscription: “To Mrs. Glover—Presented by her Students of Moral Science. June 1872.”

In 1872, as Mary Glover, she was known as a teacher of spiritual healing in Lynn, Massachusetts, with a very small circle of students. Her discovery of Christian Science (or “Moral Science” as it was known early on) had taken place just six years earlier. This gift of a concordance, presented to her along with a beautifully bound Bible, emphasizes her love for the Scriptures and the role they played in her teaching. Near the back of the book, she penciled a note referencing Isaiah 30: “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever” (verse 8). Glover was not teaching at this point; earlier in the year she had begun working full-time on the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, and would publish it in 1875.

Another special gift came to Eddy in the summer of 1902:

Cover of An Analytical Grammar of the English Language, 1836, B00281. Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library.
Inscription from Eddy’s copy of An Analytical Grammar of the English Language, 1836, B00281. Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library.

An Analytical Grammar of the English Language was the 1836 work of Dyer H. Sanborn, a school teacher of young Mary Baker. This copy had an additional connection to her early years—the book had once belonged to Enoch Corser (1787-1868), a Congregational minister who from about 1837 to 1843 served the church in Sanbornton Bridge, New Hampshire, where the Baker family had moved when their daughter was a teen.1 He also tutored Mary and was deeply impressed with her intelligence. Corser’s son Bartlett, a Methodist minister, gave the book to Irving C. Tomlinson, who at Eddy’s request was researching her early life and speaking with those who had known her.2

“I wish I could have been with you at the home of Mr. Corser…” Eddy wrote Tomlinson. “I thank him for the dear old Sanborn’s Grammar. It is sweet to remember ye old time friends.”3 A few weeks later, Bartlett Corser wrote Eddy, thanking her for the copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures that she had sent him. He also recalled his own sweet memories of “60 years ago, when my carriage was hitched at Sanbornton Bridge…dropping in sometimes to see…those, not least, at the Baker homestead, where Shakespeare perchance was the thrust of conversations, or checker-playing was the order of the day….”4

We’ll continue our exploration of inscriptions, and future posts will share the historical gems uncovered!

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  1. James Strong and John McClintock “Corser, Enoch,” McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia, accessed September 12, 2017, http://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/C/corser-enoch.html.
  2. Irving Tomlinson, “Mary Baker Eddy: The Woman and the Revelator,” 1932, Reminiscence, 688.
  3. Eddy to Tomlinson, 5 July 1902, L03774.
  4. Corser to Eddy, 17 July 1902, IC533.57.016.