Among the items that Mary Baker Eddy kept in her study, at Pleasant View and later at Chestnut Hill, was this bust of a child who appears to be thoughtfully contemplating a book. Eddy herself was, by all accounts, a reader at a very young age, and valued books and reading throughout her life. On the quotation page of Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, she includes a passage from “Epigram 86” by Ben Jonson that reflects her feelings about books:
When I would know thee…my thought looks
Upon thy well made choice of friends and books;
Then do I love thee, and behold thy ends
In making thy friends books, and thy books friends.
The marble bust, whose sculptor is unknown, was a Christmas gift to Mary Baker Eddy in 1901 from the children of the Sunday School of the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in Kansas City, Missouri.
To our beloved Mother
children of the Sunday School
of Second Church of Christ, Scientist
of Kansas City, Mo.
Interestingly, this bust became a presence as she was preparing for the publication of a major revision of her own book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Irving Tomlinson, one of Eddy’s secretaries, later wrote that the gift was “…one which touched her deeply….”1
Eddy wrote in the Christian Science Sentinel (January 2, 1902 and later in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany):
To the children who sent me that beautiful statuette in alabaster—a child with finger on her lip reading a book—I write: Fancy yourselves with me, take a peep into my studio, look again at your gift, and you will see the sweetest sculptured face and form conceivable—mounted on its pedestal between my bow windows—and on either side lace and flowers. I have named it, my white student.2
- Irving Tomlinson, 21 December 1902, A12049.
- Mary Baker Eddy, “Christmas Gifts,” Christian Science Sentinel, January 2, 1902, http://sentinel.christianscience.com/shared/view/l1uyw0ccg2?s=t