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Mary Anne Atwood papers (Ms.Atwood)

Brown University Library

Box A
Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
Tel: 401-863-2146

Biographical Note

Born in 1817, the daughter of Thomas South, Mary Anne Atwood would author two books. In 1846 she published (under a pen name) Early Magnetism, in its Higher Relation to Humanity as Veiled in the Poets and the Prophets. In 1850, under her maiden name, M.A. South, she published A Suggestive Enquiry into the Hermetic Mystery, a book which put forth an early statement of the theory that the true goal of alchemy was spiritual perfection. A short time later Mrs. Atwood regretted publication of this work, fearing she had revealed too much of matters that would be better kept secret. She subsequently bought up as many copies of the book as possible and destroyed them. Nevertheless, a few copies survived and in 1918, some years after her death, a new edition of the work was brought out, with an introduction by Walter Leslie Wilmshurst and memorabilia of Mrs. Atwood. A further printing appeared in 1920, but the book remained a scarce one until 1960 when it was again reprinted from the Wilmshurst edition by Julian Press, New York.

On both of the above works Mrs. Atwood collaborated with her father and after his death she wrote nothing more for publication. In 1859 she married Alban Thomas Atwood, vicar of Leake, Yorkshire. They had no children. Alban Atwood died in 1883. Mary Anne Atwood lived out her life at Knayton Lodge, Thirsk [England]. She died on April 13, 1910. Her last words were: "I cannot find my center of gravity."