Evans, Warren Felt (1817-1889)

views updated

Evans, Warren Felt (1817-1889)

Warren Felt Evans, Swedenborgian minister and early practitioner of mind cure, was born December 23, 1817, at Rock-ingham, Vermont. He attended Dartmouth College but left after his junior year (1840) to become a Methodist minister. He served a number of different congregations in New England during the next 24 years. During these years he also began to read widely in the writings of seer Emanuel Swedenborg, and in 1863, he affiliated with the Church of the New Jerusalem. He formally left the Methodist Episcopal Church the following year.

At the time he was changing denominations, he was also experiencing some ill health described as "a nervous affection, complicated by a chronic disorder." He heard of healer Phineas Parkhurst Quimby and visited Quimby in Maine. Under Quimby's care he experienced a healing and adopted some of Quimby's ideas. He also became convinced that he could perform mental healing himself. He began work in Claremont, New Hampshire, later moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and in 1869 settled in Salisbury, a Boston suburb, where he would receive patients for the next twenty years.

In 1869 Evans also published his first book, The Mental Cure, an important work for several reasons. It introduced Quimby's ideas to the rest of world, Quimby having never published his writings. It was the first book in the field of mental healing and would become very popular as the century progressed. It would also provide a context for the publication of the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, whose books on healing would appear in the next decade.

Evans wrote five other books: Mental Medicine (1873), Soul and Body (1876), The Divine Law of Cure (1881), The Primitive Mind Cure (1885), and Esoteric Christianity and Mental Therapeutics (1886). As his thought matured, Evans took Quimby's healing practice into the Swedenborgian theology that dominated his thought. In the end he created a pantheistic system that provided a context for his healing work. His thought would later be seen as a precursor of New Thought metaphysics. He died in Salisbury on September 4, 1889.


Evans, Warren Felt. The Divine Law of Cure. Boston: H. H. Carter, 1881.

. Esoteric Christianity and Mental Therapeutics. Boston: H. H. Carter & Karick, 1886.

. The Mental Cure. Boston: Colby & Rich, 1869.

. Mental Medicine. Boston: H. H. Carter, 1873.

. The Primitive Mind Cure. Boston: H. H. Carter & Karrick, 1885.

. Soul and Body. Boston: H. H. Carter, 1876.

Leonard, William J. The Pioneer Apostle of Mental Science: A Sketch of the Life and Work of Rev. Warren Felt Evans, M.D. N.p.: The Author, n.d.

Teahan, John F. "Warren Felt Evans and Mental Healing: Romantic Idealism and Practical Metaphysics in Nineteenth-Century America." Church History 48, no. 1 (March 1979): 63-80.