Thursday, April 2, 2009

William Walker Atkinson, early New Thought author

I am currently reading a book by William Walker Atkinson and am impressed by his depth of knowledge as well as his presentation of the material. I researched his biography and thought I would share it with you. - Rev. Cheryl


William Walker Atkinson was and is an important and influential writer of the early New Thought Movement. He is originally from Maryland, married in 1889 to Margaret Foster Black of New Jersey and had two children. He was in business from 1882 and became a successful and prosperous attorney in Pennsylvania in 1884. He eventually experienced a physical and mental breakdown from the stress of his job and had a financial setback as well. His search for healing brought him to the New Thought movement. Using its principles, he was brought back to perfect mental and physical health and material prosperity.

Atkinson began to write about the Truths he discovered through his use of Mental Science, and in 1889 his article "A Mental Science Catechism," was published by Charles Fillmore, founder of the Unity Church, in his new periodical, "Modern Thought. " [His work will be featured in a separate post.]

In the early 1890s, Atkinson moved to Chicago, which had become a major centre for New Thought largely through the work of Emma Curtis Hopkins. [A former student of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, Ms. Hopkins is known as the "teacher of teachers." Her work will be featured in a future post.] He actively promoted the movement as an author and editor. In 1900 he was associate editor of the New Thought journal "Suggestion," and wrote his first book, "Thought-Force in Business and Everyday Life," a series of lessons in personal magnetism, psychic influence, thought-force, concentration, will-power and practical Mental Science.

From 1901 - 1905, Atkinson was editor of "New Thought Magazine," a publication by Sydney Flower, renowned New Thought publisher and business figure. [I do not know much about him but will research his work for a future post.] He earned a faithful readership through the poignancy and strength of his articles. During this time, he also founded his own Psychic Club and the "Atkinson School of Mental Science," both located in the same building as Flower's Psychic Research Company and New Thought Publishing Company.

Atkinson also became interested in Hinduism and collaborated with Baba Bharata, a pupil of the late Yogi Ramacharaka, after Bharata had become acquainted with Atkinson's writings. Through the use of Bharata's knowledge and Atkinson's writing talent, the two wrote a series of 13 books under Ramacharaka's name out of respect for him beginning in 1903. These books were published by the Yogi Publication Society in Chicago and reached more people than did Atkinson's New Thought works. In fact, all these books on yoga are still reprinted today. Atkinson's books on New Thought were widely circulated as well, and became popular and influential among New Thought practitioners.

In 1903, Atkinson was admitted to the Bars of Illinois, retaining his active interest in practicing the law, this time with no ill effect on his nervous system.

In addition to his law practice, Atkinson penned articles for Elizabeth Towne's magazine "The Nautilis" in 1916. Also from 1916 to 1919 he was editor of the journal "Advanced Thought," and honorary president of the International New Thought Alliance.

Atkinson wrote nearly a hundred books with many other pseudonyms including Theodore Sheldon, Theron Q.Dumont, Swami Panchadasi, The Three Initiates, and Magus Incognitus. He collaborated with Eduard E. Beals and Laurion, William De Laurence. He wrote a 6 volume series called "The Arcane Teachings," published by Arcane Books without signature. These books demonstrated his knowledge of arcane formula or meental alchemy, the cosmic laws; and vril or, vital magnetism.

William Walker Atkinson died on November 22, 1932, in California and is still considered today one of the giants of The New Thought Movement.

William Walker Atkinson was a prolific writer. His works published under his own name include:

"Practical Mental Influence" (1908)
"The Secret of Success: Self-Healing by Thought Force" (1907)
"Practical Mind-Reading"
"How to Read Human Nature"
"Law of the New Thought: A Study of Fundamental Principles & Their Application" (1902)
"Your Mind and How to Use It: A Manual of Practical Psychology " (1911)
"Suggestion and Auto-Suggestion"
"The Inner Consciousness: Your Greater Self"
"Thought-Force in Business & Everyday Life"
"Memory: How to Develop Train & Use It"
"Mind Power: The Secret of Mental Magic" (1912)
"Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World"* [I am currently reading this book and highly recommend it. It puts the relationship of will, volition and choice into the context of spiritual evolution which we will get into in our next discussion on 4/9. The ebook is found free at]

The following books Atkinson wrote under the pseudonym Theron Q. Dumont:

"Successful Salesmanship"
"The Power of Concentration "
"The Art and Science of Personal Magnetism"
"The Master Mind: The Key to Mental Power Development"

Also in print today are the following books:

The Complete Writings of William Walker Atkinson Vol. 1
The Complete Writings of William Walker Atkinson Vol. 2
The Complete Writings of William Walker Atkinson Vol. 3
The Complete Writings of William Walker Atkinson Vol. 4
The Complete Writings of William Walker Atkinson Vol. 5

Dynamic Thought or the Law of Vibrant Energy (1906)
Mastery of Being: A Study of the Ultimate Principle of Reality & the Practical Application Thereof (1911)
Memory Culture: The Science of Observing, Remembering and Recalling (1903
Mental Fascination (1907)
Mind & Body or Mental States & Physical Conditions (1910)
Practical New Thought: Several Things that Have Helped People (1911)
Practical Psychomancy and Crystal Gazing (1907)
Reincarnation and the Law of Karma (1908)
Subconscious and the Superconscious Planes of Mind (1909)
Telepathy: Its Theory, Facts, and Proof (1910)


  1. Cheryl, do you think a library on the island could find some if these books? I could check s the reference librarians and look on line to see if we could get some loaned through inter-library loan? I thought these sound interesting:
    Mind & Body or Mental States & Physical Conditions (1910)
    Practical New Thought: Several Things that Have Helped People (1911)
    Practical Psychomancy and Crystal Gazing (1907)
    Reincarnation and the Law of Karma (1908)
    Subconscious and the Superconscious Planes of Mind (1909)
    Telepathy: Its Theory, Facts, and Proof (1910)

  2. Or these, It night be interesting to each read on and give a report? Ah no, homework....

  3. Nel, I found the Atkinson book I am reading on and believe you may find some/all of his other books there as well.

    I found the dvds "The Secret Behind the Secret" and Louise Hay's "You Can Heal Your Life" at the O.B. library so there is some precedent in the library's inclusion of metaphysical materials in its collection. I would start by requesting some of the "softer" materials like "Law of New Thought," "Practical New Thought," "Your Mind and How to Use It." Troward's two classics, "The Edinborough Lectures" and "The Dore Lectures" would be good to request also. Better yet, the volumes of complete works by both authors would cost less than the individual works and give a complete picture of their philosophy.