Children’s Literature and the Rise of ‘Mind Culture’

This is the image of the cover of the book. There is a color image of two young girls lighting paper lamps in a garden. They are surrounded by flowers and greenery. The text on the book cover reads
Stiles, A. Children’s Literature and the Rise of ’Mind Culture’. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press , 2021.

IRH Fellow:

Ann Stiles (Kingdon Fellow, 2016-2017)


Positive thinking is good for you. You can become healthy, wealthy, and influential by using the power of your mind to attract what you desire. These kooky but commonplace ideas stem from a nineteenth-century new religious movement known as ‘mind cure’ or New Thought. Related to Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science, New Thought was once a popular religious movement with hundreds of thousands of followers, and has since migrated into secular contexts such as contemporary psychotherapy, corporate culture, and entertainment. New Thought also pervades nineteenth- and early twentieth-century children’s literature, including classics such as The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and A Little Princess. In this first book-length treatment of New Thought in Anglophone fiction, Anne Stiles explains how children’s literature encouraged readers to accept New Thought ideas – especially psychological concepts such as the inner child – thereby ensuring the movement’s survival into the present day.