Ellen G. White and Her Critics


Chapter 28—Mrs. White’s Literary Borrowings
The Plagiarism Charge—Part I

Charge: In certain of her books Mrs. White “copied extensively from other authors without giving credit,” generally without even using quotation marks, and this she pretends was all revealed to her directly from heaven. EGWC 403.1

In 1883 she published her work Sketches From the Life of Paul. She “copied a large part of her book directly from” an 1852 * English work by Conybeare and Howson, The Life and Epistles of Saint Paul. The publishers declared, in the preface, that it was written by “special help from the Spirit of God.” Adventists “innocently read her book as material given to her by revelation.” “So plainly and fully was Mrs. White’s book copied from the older book, that the publishers of Conybeare and Howson’s work threatened prosecution if her work was not suppressed. Hence it was withdrawn from sale.” EGWC 403.2

“‘The Great Controversy’ is her most popular book with her people. Every line is accepted as original with her; all inspired by the Holy Spirit. Carefully studying it, we found that it was taken largely from Andrews’ ‘History of the Sabbath,’ Wylie’s ‘History of the Waldenses,’ D’Aubigne’s ‘History of the Reformation,’ Smith’s ‘Sanctuary,’ Elder White’s ‘Life of Wm. Miller,’ itself a copied book, and other works.” EGWC 403.3

“As soon as this book [the 1884 edition of Great Controversy] was read by some of the leading brethren, they discovered that it was largely taken from other publications. They very earnestly protested to Mrs. White,” but without avail, as edition after edition was published “between 1884 and 1888.” EGWC 403.4

“Protest against using the thoughts of others without credit continued to be presented to Mrs. White so that in 1892 [correct date, 1888] a new and enlarged edition was published in which a few of the plagiarized portions were enclosed in quotation marks, but without credit.” In the preface to this edition she “admits that she had taken some of her information from other authors.” Not until 1911 did she “come out honestly and give the proper credit to the authors from which she had plagiarized so much.” EGWC 403.5

These two books are the ones routinely presented as proof that Mrs. White plagiarized and that she deceived her followers into thinking that these plagiarisms were inspired. It is insinuated that various of her works are heavily tainted with plagiarism, but for some reason the charge is largely confined to these two books. * EGWC 404.1