Edwin Franden Dakin

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Edwin Franden Dakin (1898 - 1976) was an American biographer, editor and writer.


Dakin was associate editor of the weekly magazine Commerce and Finance (1922-1926). He also edited the magazine Plane Talk. He is best known for his book Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind, a critical biography of Mary Baker Eddy.[1] It was the first biography to document Eddy's use of morphine.[2] It received positive reviews in academic journals.[3][4]

In 1929, H. L. Mencken commented that Dakin "has been at pains to unearth the precise facts and he sets them forth carefully and pleasantly. The Christian Science press-agents, of course, will damn him as a slanderer, but that fact is unimportant. He has made a valuable contribution to American history."[5]

The Dictionary of American Biography described it as the "most impartial and scholarly biography" of Eddy.[6] It has also been described it as "a superbly documented biography."[7] Psychiatrist Karl Menninger described the book as "remarkable".[8] Ernest Sutherland Bates praised the book for its judicious examination of sources.[9]

Literary critic Daniel Burt wrote that it is a detailed biography and Dakin achieved an "objectivity rare in books about Eddy."[10]


When Dakin's biography of Mary Baker Eddy was published in 1929, Christian Science officials from the Mother Church tried to censor and suppress the book.[2][11][12]

Christian Scientists complained that the biography was biased and negative towards Eddy.[13] The Mother Church threatened a number of bookstores that were selling it with foreclosure of mortgages. John Hall Wheelock noted that an officer from the First Church of Christ Scientist threatened its publisher Charles Scribner's Sons with "malicious animal magnetism".[2]

Christian Scientists threatened to boycott stores that displayed the book for sale. They were unsuccessful and Dakin's biography was republished by Scribner's in 1930. It was issued with a pamphlet that documented the attempted suppression, The Blight that Failed.[14][15]

William J. Whalen has noted that the Christian Science attempts of censorship "backfired and turned the book into a best seller".[16]



  1. ^ Edwin Franden Dakin, 77, A Writer and Publicity Man. The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b c Bruccoli, Matthew J; Baughman, Judith S. (2002). The Last Romantic: A Poet Among Publishers : The Oral Autobiography of John Hall Wheelock. University of South Carolina Press. pp. 98-99. ISBN 978-1570034633
  3. ^ Murray, Henry A. (1930). Reviewed Work: Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind by Edwin Franden Dakin. The New England Quarterly 3 (2): 341–347.
  4. ^ Sweet, William W. (1930). Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of a Virginal Mind. By Edwin Franden Dakin. Journal of American History 16 (4): 577–580.
  5. ^ Mencken, H. L. (1929). Mrs. Eddy: The Biography of Virginal Mind by Edwin Franden Dakin. The American Mercury. pp. 379-381
  6. ^ Dictionary of American Biography, Volume 3. C. Scribner's Sons, 1936. p. 14
  7. ^ Wardell, Walter I. Christian Science and Spiritual Healing. (2010). In Richard H. Cox. Religious Systems and Psychotherapy. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 80. ISBN 978-1608999163
  8. ^ Menninger, Karl. (1927). The Human Mind. Garden City Publishing Company. p. 84
  9. ^ Bates, Ernest Sutherland. (September 7, 1929). A Virginal Mind. The Saturday Review. pp. 103-104
  10. ^ Burt, Daniel S. (2001). The Biography Book: A Reader's Guide To Nonfiction, Fictional, and Film Biographies of More Than 500 of the Most Fascinating Individuals of all Time. Greenwood. p. 125. ISBN 978-1573562560
  11. ^ Mussey, Henry Raymond. (March 12, 1930). The Christian Science Censor. The Nation. pp. 291-292
  12. ^ Cleaton, Irene; Cleaton Allen. (1970). Books & Battles: American Literature, 1920-1930. Cooper Square Publishers. pp. 81-83
  13. ^ Towne, Orwell Bradley. (November 9, 1929). Mrs Eddy. The Saturday Review. p. 370
  14. ^ McCoy, Ralph Edward. (1968). Freedom of the Press: An Annotated Bibliography. Southern Illinois University Press. p. 1993
  15. ^ Boyer, Paul. (2002). Purity in Print: Book Censorship in America from the Gilded Age to the Computer Age. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 195. ISBN 978-0299175849
  16. ^ Whalen, William Joseph. (1963). Faiths for the Few: A Study of Minority Religions. Bruce Publishing Company. p. 62

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