It frequently has been said that presentations of the New Thought are made in terms not readily intelligible to beginners. In the nature of the case, it is not easy to set forth a psychological and idealistic system so that it shall be lucid to all. Henry wood not only accomplishes this but does it with amazing beauty and love.
Henry Wood was one of the very first New Thought authors. His books were widely read both in New Thought circles and far beyond them. Horatio Dresser, another very influential figure in the early development of the movement, writes of him as the first to seek to spread the new ideas through publicity. He thinks him representative of “the more rational expression of New Thought” (History of the New Thought Movement, p. 167), and at the same time the first New Thought philanthropist.
Henry Wood had been a successful businessman before his retirement and, while not a man of great wealth, he was well-to-do. He began his writing career in 1887 with a book entitled Natural Law in the Business World, which brought him into prominence. This book, recast as The Political Economy of Humanism, sold well, going through a number of editions. The following year, at the age of fifty-four, he was in a mental and physical condition where life seemed a burden to him and an overwhelming depression prevailed, having suffered a long period of chronic neurasthenia, insomnia and dyspepsia, to which he felt there was no promise of recovery or even of partial relief. Medicine and the usual methods brought no relief, so a plunge was made from a supposedly correct moral and ethical life into the practice and philosophy of the “higher thought” with its new ideals. A sharp corner was turned and a new path entered which led to the recovery of his health, and a new revitalized outlook on life.
He began to write in the field of religion, interpreting the New Thought that had led to his healing. His books included: God’s Image in Man, Studies in the New Thought World, The New Old Healing, New Thought Simplified: How to Gain Harmony and Health, and Ideal Suggestion Through Mental Photography. A pamphlet, Has Mental Healing a Valid Scientific and Religious Basis? had sold more than thirty thousand copies prior to 1902. His books appeared in many editions, some reaching seventh, eighth, twelfth, and one going into fourteen editions. How large the editions were is not known, but that the books appeared in a number of editions is evidence that in comparison with other books they enjoyed considerable popularity. Wood was the first New Thought writer to undertake to express his ideas through the medium of fiction, writing two novels, Edward Burton and Victor Serenus. The latter was made into a drama — probably the first New Thought drama — and was performed in a Boston theater, but unfortunately, it was not a dramatic success.
Henry Wood was active in the Important Metaphysical Club of Boston and a frequent speaker and counselor in the formation of larger units of New Thought organization which began to take form in the early decades of the twentieth century, but his great and lasting contribution was made through his books. His New Thought Simplified: How to Gain Harmony and Health presents an excellent and simple formulation of what the New Thought had come to mean at that period and an electronic edition is available below to purchase on-line.
Lessons in Truth – Harriet Emilie Cady
The Radiant I Am – Emma Curtis Hopkins
How to Let God Heal You – Myrtle Fillmore