Florence Scovel Shinn

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Florence Scovel Shinn
Photo Florence Scovel Shinn.jpg
Photo of Florence Scovel Shinn (no later than 1903)
Born (1871-09-24)September 24, 1871
Camden, New Jersey, USA
Died October 17, 1940(1940-10-17) (aged 69)
Nationality American
Occupation Artist, author and New Thought spiritual teacher.

Florence Scovel Shinn (September 24, 1871, Camden, New Jersey – October 17, 1940) was an American artist and book illustrator who became a New Thought spiritual teacher and metaphysical writer in her middle years.[1][2] In New Thought circles, she is best known for her first book, The Game of Life and How to Play It (1925).

Shinn expressed her philosophy as:

The invisible forces are ever working for man who is always ‘pulling the strings’ himself, though he does not know it. Owing to the vibratory power of words, whatever man voices, he begins to attract.
The Game of Life, Florence Scovel Shinn[1]

Early life[edit]

Florence Scovel was born in New Jersey, the daughter of Alden Cortlandt Scovel and Emily Hopkinson Scovel.[3] She was educated in Philadelphia where she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and there met her future husband, the artist Everett Shinn (1876–1953). After marriage they moved into a studio apartment at 112 Waverly Place, near Washington Square, New York. Everett built a theatre next door, and wrote three plays in which Florence played a leading role.[4] Everett Shinn became known as a member of the Ashcan School of art, and Florence worked as an illustrator.[5] They were divorced in 1912.[3]

Writings and New Thought[edit]

Her metaphysical works began with her self-published The Game of Life and How to Play it in 1925. Your Word is Your Wand was published in 1928 and The Secret Door to Success in 1940.[4] The Game of Life and How to Play it includes quotes from the Bible and anecdotal explanations of the author's understanding of God and man. Her philosophy centers on the power of positive thought and usually includes instructions for verbal or physical affirmation.

"The Unitarians have such nice children's parties", a drawing published in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 1904.

A typical Scovel Shinn piece of advice would be "It is safe to say that all sickness and unhappiness come from the violation of the law of love. A new commandment I give unto you, 'Love one another,' and in the Game of Life, love or good-will takes every trick."[6]

Her advice is usually accompanied by a "real life" anecdote, as for the above "Love one another" advice:

A woman I know, had, for years an appearance of a terrible skin disease. The doctors told her it was incurable, and she was in despair. She was on the stage, and she feared she would soon have to give up her profession, and she had no other means of support. She, however, procured a good engagement, and on the opening night, made a great "hit." She received flattering notices from the critics, and was joyful and elated. The next day she received a notice of dismissal. A man in the cast had been jealous of her success and had caused her to be sent away. She felt hatred and resentment taking complete possession of her, and she cried out, "Oh God don't let me hate that man." That night she worked for hours "in the silence."

She said, "I soon came into a very deep silence. I seemed to be at peace with myself, with the man, and with the whole world. I continued this for two following nights, and on the third day I found I was healed completely of the skin disease!" In asking for love, or good will, she had fulfilled the law, ("for love is the fulfilling of the law") and the disease (which came from subconscious resentment) was wiped out.."[6]

Her books Your Word Is Your Wand[7] and The Game of Life and How To Play It [8] were released as audiobooks in 2014 and 2015 respectively and were narrated by actress Hillary Hawkins.

Shinn is considered part of the New Thought movement, as her writings follow in the tradition of Phineas Quimby (1802–1866), Emma Curtis Hopkins (1849–1925), and both Charles Fillmore (1854–1948) and Myrtle Fillmore (1845–1931), co-founders of the Unity Church.

Motivational author Louise Hay acknowledges her as an early influence.[9]

Childhood's Happy Hour, from Harper's Monthly magazine, August 1903.


  • Shinn, F. S. (1925). The Game of Life. In The writings of Florence Scovel Shinn (1988, pp. 1 – 92). Marina del Rey, CA: DeVorss & Company.
  • Your Word is Your Wand 1928
  • The Secret Door to Success 1940.
  • Collected works: F.S. Shinn, The Wisdom of Florence Scovel Shinn: Four complete books, Fireside Books, New York, 1989.


  1. ^ a b Gatlin, Linda; Edwards, Rita. "Promoting Authentic Learning through a Peaceful and Positive Perspective" in Journal of Authentic Learning, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2007). p2.
  2. ^ "Florence Scovel Shinn" in Encyclopedia Americana, 1961.
  3. ^ a b Mrs. Florence Shinn, Writer and Lecturer (obituary), The New York Times, October 18, 1940, p. 21.
  4. ^ a b Florence Scovel Shinn at the New Thought Library
  5. ^ "Works of Florence Scovel Shinn". 
  6. ^ a b The Game of Life and How to Play It, Chapter 3
  7. ^ "Your Word Is Your Wand". 
  8. ^ "The Game of Life and How to Play It". 
  9. ^ Mark Oppenheimer (May 4, 2008). "The Queen of the New Age". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 


Further reading[edit]

The Cornish Colony:

  • Virginia Reed Colby, James B. Atkinson, Footprints of the Past, Images of Cornish, New Hampshire and the Cornish Colony. New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, New Hampshire, 1996.

External links[edit]