Robert Peel (May 6, 1909 – January 8, 1992) was a Christian Science historian and writer on religious and ecumenical topics. A Christian Scientist for over 70 years, Peel worked for the Church of Christ, Scientist's Committee on Publication, set up by Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), the religion's founder, to protect her own and the church's reputation.[1]

Robert Peel
Born(1909-05-06)May 6, 1909
London, England
DiedJanuary 8, 1992(1992-01-08) (aged 82)
Boston, Massachusetts
EducationBA, English literature, Harvard University, 1931
MA, English literature, Harvard University, 1940
OccupationChristian Science historian

Peel is best known for his three-volume biography, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery (1966), The Years of Trial (1971), and The Years of Authority (1977).



Peel was born in London and educated in Ottawa and Boston public schools.[2] His family converted to Christian Science when he was ten years old.[3] He received a bachelor's degree in 1931 from Harvard University and a master's in 1940.[2] His undergraduate honors thesis, "The Creed of a Victorian Pagan," a study of English novelist and poet George Meredith, was published by the university.[4]


Peel served in World War II in the South Pacific, working as a civilian intelligence officer.[2] After the war he taught at Principia College, a Christian Science college, served as an editorial consultant for the Christian Science church's Committee on Publication in Boston, and wrote editorials for the Christian Science Monitor, a newspaper owned by the church.[5]

His first book, Christian Science: Its Encounter with American Culture, was published in 1958. His extensive research into the life of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science church, culminated in his biographical trilogy, published between 1966 and 1977. Peel was a Christian Scientist all his adult life, although he was said to have become estranged from the church in later years.[1]


Peel's objectivity has been called into question over his biographical research of Mary Baker Eddy. For example historian Charles S. Braden has noted that "Despite the impressive apparatus of scholarship employed, Mr. Peel's book must be taken for what it really is, an exceedingly clever piece of propaganda in support of the official view of the life of Mrs. Eddy."[6]

Historian James Findlay wrote that Peel was "highly sympathetic" to Eddy with the result being a "flat, one or two-dimensional image that remains unreal."[7]

Raymond J. Cunningham a Professor of History described Peel as a "painstaking and imaginative scholar" but noted "significant problems" with his biography of Eddy. This included his religious convictions and his special pleading to resolve "doubtful points in favor of the subject".[8]

Biographer Carol Dickson noted that "Peel seeks to ignore controversies completely by confining discussions of conflicting evidence and questions of reliability to his notes."[9]

Gillian Gill called Peel "Mrs. Eddy's most brilliant, informed and judicious biographer."[10] Caroline Fraser wrote that he was "an apologist for Eddy's more eccentric characteristics."[11]

William E. Phipps a Professor of Religion and Philosophy described Peel as an "Eddy apologist".[12]

Selected worksEdit

  • Christian Science: Its Encounter with American Culture, Henry Holt and Company, 1958. ISBN 0-933062-24-9
  • A Century of Christian Science Healing (significant editorial contribution), The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1966. ISBN 0-87510-067-8
  • Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966. ISBN 0-87510-085-6
  • Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971. ISBN 0-03-086700-2
  • Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1977. ISBN 0-87510-142-9
  • Spiritual Healing in a Scientific Age, Harper and Row, 1987. ISBN 0-06-066484-3
  • Health and Medicine in the Christian Science Tradition, Crossroad, 1988. ISBN 0-8245-0895-5


  1. ^ a b Gillian Gill, Mary Baker Eddy, Perseus Books Group, 1999, p. 518.
  2. ^ a b c "Robert Peel, journalist, author" Associated Press, January 10, 1992.
  3. ^ Robert Peel, Spiritual Healing in a Scientific Age, Harper & Row, 1987, p. 184.
  4. ^ "Only One Honors Thesis, by Waitzkin, To Be Printed" The Harvard Crimson, June 14, 1933.
  5. ^ Robert Peel, Christian Science: Its Encounter with American Culture, Henry Holt and Company, 1958.
  6. ^ Braden, Charles S. (1967). Reviewed Work: Mary Baker Eddy, the Years of Discovery by Robert Peel. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 6 (2): 294-296.
  7. ^ Findlay, James. (1967). Work: Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery by Robert Peel. The Journal of American History 53 (4): 834-836.
  8. ^ Cunningham, Raymond J. (1979). Reviewed Work: Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority by Robert Peel. The American Historical Review 84 (1): 264-265
  9. ^ Dickson, Carol E. (1998). Eddy, Mary Baker 1821-1910. In Eleanor Amico. Reader's Guide to Women's Studies. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 306. ISBN 188496477X
  10. ^ Gill 1998, p. 40.
  11. ^ Caroline Fraser, God's Perfect Child, Metropolitan Books, 199, p. 35; "God's Perfect Child" (excerpt), The New York Times, August 22, 1999.
  12. ^ Phipps, William E. (2003). Mark Twain's Religion. Mercer University Press. p. 325. ISBN 978-0865548978

External linksEdit