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Elizabeth Towne

(1865 - 1960)

New Thought Author Elizabeth Towne

About New Thought Author Elizabeth Towne

Elizabeth Jones Towne was an influential writer, editor, publisher and pioneer in the New Thought and self-help movements. She was also the founder Nautilus, the most successful journal of the early New Thought Movement. Elizabeth Towne was born in Oregon and was the daughter of one of Oregon's earliest pioneers. Her education had been interuppted when she married at a young age. The marriage was unhappy and ended in divorce. While still living in Portland with her children, and with no background experience in business, Elizabeth decided to undertake the project of publishing her own periodical. In 1898, and with the initial support of her father, Elizabeth launched her magazine entitled "Nautilus".

In 1900, Elizabeth and her magazine moved east to Holyoke, Massachusetts. She soon married William E. Towne, a book and magazine publisher and distributer. Elizabeth Towne and her husband eventually built up a profitable business publishing and distributing New Thought books from their home. The Towne's home and business center resembled a school-house building, and Mrs. Towne often referred to the Nautilus office as "The High School Annex"; it was named such also because Elizabeth Towne insisted that all of her employees should have at least some high school training. The Towne's treated their employees well and even helped them on their own paths to success. For several years, the Towne's continued writing and publishing successfully.

On the morning of December, 9, 1910, a fire suddenly broke out in Holyoke. Elizabeth and William Towne's home, and the distribution center for Nautilus, was destroyed in the fire. The business went from a flourishing enterprise to being in a state of utter disorganization. The Towne's carried on with energy and determination and eventually their home and business was restored and life continued on.

In 1924, Elizabeth Towne was elected president of the International New Thought Alliance and also assumed editorship of the INTA periodical Bulletin. The size of Bulletin doubled as a result of Towne's editorship.

Elizabeth Towne did much of the editing for Nautilus, writing constantly for the magazine and publishing several books and pamphlets of her own, and from other New Thought authors. Her husband was the associate editor and wrote most of the magazine's advertising, in addition to publishing his own quarterly, American New Life. Mrs. Towne's son Chester also worked for the magazine. The Towne's continue to develop the magazine making it an extremely succesful exponent of New Thought, self-help, and human efficiency through self-knowledge. Many famous New Thought writers of the time, such as Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Annie Warner, Horatio W. Dresser, Kate Atkinson Boehme, Orison Swett Marden, Wallace Wattles also contributed some of their best work to Nautilus. One of the leading New Thought authors at the time, William Walker Atkinson, also joined the staff of writers.

The Nautilus business was later incorporated as the Elizabeth Towne Company, a close corporation. The company continued to be successful in publishing books by Elizabeth Towne and other New Thought authors. From its beginning in 1898, Nautilus continued for more than 50 years until August, 1953, when Elizabeth Towne announced that the advancing years of the editor and the increasing costs of production made it seem unwise to continue publication. Aside from her editorial, book writing and publishing, and her life as a mother and home maker, Elizabeth Towne also traveled internationally on lecture tours. During her twelve year residence in Holyoke she was deeply engaged in local philanthropic work and was a member of the International Lyceum Club.

Elizabeth Towne was an admirable woman who had courage, rare judgement, a pioneering spirit, and an attractive personality; she also had an immense capacity for hard work and was filled with energy and enthusiasm. She is considered one of the most colorful characters of the New Thought Movement.

The motto of Nautilus that appeared on the title page of every issue:

"Build thee more stately mansions, oh my soul!
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low vaulted past!
Let each new temple nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!"

Published writings by Elizabeth Towne:


Quotes by Elizabeth Towne

Videos/Audiobooks - Elizabeth Towne

Nautilus Magazine (pdf)

International New Thought Alliance

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