Robert Peel’s book The Years of Discovery, the first volume of his biography Mary Baker Eddy, came out in 1966. Over the next 11 years, Peel went on to publish two follow-up volumes—The Years of Trial and The Years of Authority—completing the most comprehensive biography to date of the woman who founded the Christian Science church. In this episode, recorded in front of a live audience, our panel of guests dives into the impact of these books and their author, celebrating an all-new edition of The Years of Discovery. The Mary Baker Eddy Library played an instrumental role in that effort, corroborating the book’s rich footnotes and providing supplemental images and tools for research. Dr. Ryan Vigil, Manager of General Publications at The Christian Science Publishing Society, and Dorothy Rivera, the Library’s Manager of Research and Exhibits, share insights about the new edition. We also had the privilege of hosting special guests Diane Hanover and Dr. Gillian Gill, who provide personal reflections on Peel’s importance. Hanover recounts inspiring firsthand remembrances from her time working with him. Gill, as author of her own biography, Mary Baker Eddy, shares her appreciation of the integrity and vision he displayed in presenting Eddy’s story.
Access more on this topic:
- The Years of Discovery by Robert Peel (JSH-Online)
Dr. Ryan Vigil is Manager of General Publications at The Christian Science Publishing Society. He oversees the department’s publication of a diverse product catalog, including The Years of Discovery and other biographies and history books. Prior to joining the Publishing Society, Vigil taught at several colleges and universities in the northeastern United States, most recently serving for eight years on the music faculty at the University of New Hampshire. He holds a doctorate in music composition from Yale University and advanced degrees from Yale and Tufts University.
Dorothy Rivera is Manager of Research and Exhibits for the Mary Baker Eddy Library. She began at the Library in 2014 as a researcher. Her prior experience includes work as an archives technician at the National Archives and Records Administration. She holds a master’s in history from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a bachelor’s in history and political science from Johns Hopkins University.
Diane Hanover is the Christian Science church’s Committee on Publication for the state of Arizona. In the course of her career, she has spent approximately 18 years serving the Committee on Publication office, including time spent working with Peel in the 1980s. She worked as an editor at Houghton Mifflin and held other positions as a researcher, writer, and editor. In 2008 Hanover completed a research fellowship at The Mary Baker Eddy Library. Her focus of study was the early growth, establishment, and experience of Christian Science branch churches in the United States. She also completed post-baccalaureate work in education at the University of Arizona.
Dr. Gillian Gill is a New York Times bestselling author and independent scholar who specializes in biography. Her book Mary Baker Eddy (Perseus Books, 1998) drew heavily on research from church archives that are now part of the Library’s collections. Her work includes biographies of other prominent historical women, including Agatha Christie, Florence Nightingale, and Virginia Woolf. Gill holds a Ph.D. in modern French literature from Cambridge University and has taught at Northeastern University, Wellesley College, Harvard University, and Yale University. She currently lives in the Boston area.