Although the question of authorship of “Taking Offense,” found on pages 223-24 in Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Miscellaneous Writings, has been extensively researched, the answers are still somewhat incomplete. The basic facts are:
- The first known publication of this article was in February 1870, when it appeared anonymously in Godey’s Lady’s Book,1 but evidence in Eddy’s own scrapbook indicates that it may have been published elsewhere before then.2
- On April 14, 1883, it was published anonymously in the first issue of the Journal of Christian Science.3 In June 1886, an excerpt from “Taking Offense” was published in the Journal (77), prefaced with the comment “SOMEBODY has written these wise words:__.”4
- When Miscellaneous Writings was compiled and published under Eddy’s direction in 1897, “Taking Offense” was included, apparently on the assumption that it was by Eddy.
- In 1901, several of Eddy’s articles were included in a thirty-volume compilation titled Masterpieces of Great Literature. Irving Tomlinson was in charge of selecting which of her writings would be sent for inclusion, and selected “Taking Offense.” When Eddy received the final published compilation, her only comment was that she was “a little surprised to find so many of her articles in it.” 5
- Researchers have worked extensively, most recently using the tools of the Internet, to find further references to this, but have not found any other instances of its publication, or any further clues as to its authorship.
In 1929, critics, citing Godey’s and the anonymous reprints in the Journal, asserted that Eddy had plagiarized the piece, based on its inclusion in Miscellaneous Writings. However, the authorship of “Taking Offense” remains a mystery. In the collection, this piece is found first as a clipping in Eddy’s scrapbook; this could mean that it was among the articles by her and by many others which she saved and later used to fill the early issues of the Journal. On the other hand, many of Eddy’s own contributions in the early years ran without her name in the Journal. Though biographer Robert Peel strongly felt that the piece was not hers,6 7 we really do not know who wrote it, and it is not impossible that the author is, in fact, Eddy.
- “Taking Offence,” Godey’s Lady’s Book, February 1870, 179.
- Mary Baker Eddy, Scrapbook, SB001, page 26.
- “Taking Offence,” Journal of Christian Science, April 14, 1883, http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/280fdco2sd8?s=t.
- “Story of Constantine,” The Christian Science Journal, June 1886, http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/2nrkv7da7xw?s=t.
- Calvin A. Frye to Irving C. Tomlinson, 3 May 1901, L10241.
- Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1971), 185, 355.
- Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority (Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1977), 407.