Was there ever a picture of Eddy in Science and Health?

March 7, 2022


Frontispiece in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
with Mary Baker Eddy’s portrait, 21st Edition, 1886.

The answer is yes. Mary Baker Eddy’s likeness first appeared in 1886, in the 21st edition of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It replaced an engraving of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus, which had been used as the frontispiece in the book since 1878 (in the 2nd edition).

Beginning with the 23rd edition, also published in 1886, Eddy’s facsimile signature began to appear below her portrait. In 1888 (in the 38th edition), a different portrait appeared, and the signature was dropped.


Frontispiece in Science and Health with painting of Jesus, 2nd Edition, 1878. Frontispiece in Science and Health with portrait of Eddy and facsimile of her signature, 23rd Edition, 1886.

The frontispiece was dropped altogether in 1889, starting with the 45th edition. It reappeared 18 years later in 1907, again bearing Eddy’s portrait and facsimile signature. The following year the frontispiece was changed to a likeness that more closely resembled Eddy, who was then 87. This portrait remained in publication until she requested its removal in October 1910, not long before her death. The only books of hers that contained her portrait at that time were Science and Health and Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896.

Portrait of Mary Baker Eddy frontispiece

Frontispiece in Science and Health with portrait of Eddy, 38th Edition, 1888.

On October 26, 1910, Calvin A. Frye, Eddy’s longtime secretary, wrote to Allison V. Stewart, who was a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors as well as the Publisher of her writings: “Mrs. Eddy requests that after you have sold the bound copies of Science and Health which you now have on hand you have no more portraits of her put into that book, and remove all that are in Miscellaneous Writings” (L09459).

A second letter, dated November 10, 1910, expanded on this request. It was from Adam H. Dickey, another of Eddy’s secretaries, and also addressed to Stewart: “Mrs. Eddy has instructed me to request you to leave her picture out of future editions of her writings. Will you kindly comply with this request as soon as you can conveniently do so” (L07287).

Were there ever any other books by Eddy that included a frontispiece? Yes. During her lifetime, and up to 1923, Pulpit and Press included a frontispiece that bore a photograph of the Original Edifice of The Mother Church. In 1923 a vest-pocket edition of that book was published, but the frontispiece did not appear. We suspect the image was removed for technical reasons. Prior to this, Pulpit and Press had been issued only in a larger, “library sized” edition. Beginning in 1923 only the vest-pocket size was published. It likely wasn’t possible to reduce the photograph acceptably or reproduce it economically in the smaller size.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email