Lilian Whiting (1847–1942) was a journalist and author who covered women’s roles in the community and in the advancement of society. Perhaps not surprisingly her interest led her to Mary Baker Eddy, who was beginning to attract attention as the discoverer and founder of Christian Science. The two women developed a friendship that lasted over two decades. An associate of Eddy outside of her religious movement, Whiting expressed appreciation for her accomplishments and sought to illuminate them for readers.
She was born Emily Lilian Whiting near Niagara Falls, New York, daughter of Illinois senator Lorenzo D. Whiting and Lucretia Clement Whiting. Lilian began her journalistic career in 1876 and is credited as one of the first women to edit a newspaper, serving as editor-in-chief of The Boston Budget from 1890 to 1896, after having worked for other publications in Boston. She is also known for writing the first biography of Kate Field, a well-known journalist and actor of the day.1
Whiting requested an interview with Eddy in 1885, writing that she was “interested in your [Eddy’s] line of thought.”2 Their subsequent meeting at the Massachusetts Metaphysical College resulted in an article in Ohio’s Cleveland Leader; it was one of the first major pieces about Eddy and Christian Science to appear outside of New England. Their meeting confirmed Whiting’s appreciation for Eddy, which she expressed publicly. Whiting also mentioned receiving personal benefit from their first meeting, explaining that although she had felt tired on arrival, she left “skipping.”3
Through correspondence in the Mary Baker Eddy Collection, we can chart the growth of mutual respect between these women, evident in the exchange of pleasantries and the sharing of books. In 1888 Eddy sent Whiting an inscribed copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures4. Later Whiting wrote in thanks, “you have the one true philosophy of life,—that which begins and ends in God’s goodness.”5 In 1909 Whiting sent Eddy a copy of her volume From Dreamland Sent, inscribed “To the Reverend Mary Baker Eddy with the most grateful remembrance and the reverence and the love of Lilian Whiting Boston June days, 1909.”6
In her copy of Whiting’s publication The World Beautiful, Eddy made note of this paragraph:
Human love or friendship cannot give its gifts where they are unwelcome or unheeded. Your friend may long to pour out to you the treasures of his love, his care, his tenderness, his service; but unless you respond to them, he cannot give them. A gift presupposes two persons always,—not only one to give, but one, also to receive.
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