Neville Goddard was born on 19 February 1905 in St. Michael, Barbados in the British West Indies, to Joseph Nathaniel Goddard, a merchant, and Wilhelmina Nee Hinkinson.Neville was the fourth child in a family of nine boys and one girl.
In 1922 he came to the United States on board the S.S. Vasari to study drama at the age of seventeen. He became a dancer, and during this time he married his first wife, and they had a son together, named Joseph Neville Goddard. While touring with his dance company in England he developed an interest in metaphysics after striking up a conversation with a Scotsman who lent him a series of books on the powers of the mind. Upon his return to New York he gave up the entertainment industry to devote his full attention to the study of spiritualand mystical matters.
Neville Goddard’s first marriage was short lived, and he remained single for years until in the 1930s he met his second wife, who was a designer. After they married, they had a daughter named Victoria or “Vicky”. In 1943, he was drafted into the U.S. Army at age 38, which he did not want, especially since he felt he was too old to become a soldier and had a wife and daughter at home to take care of. Through the power of imagination, as Neville told it in his March 24, 1972 lecture, he was honorably discharged after just a few weeks of training. One consequence of his brief Army training was that he received full United States citizenship, having been a British citizen up to this point.
Abdullah – Neville Goddard’s Teacher
Goddard’s interest in esoteric interpretations of the Bible deepened after he met Abdullah, an Ethopian Jew who lectured on Esoteric Christianity and taught both Goddard and Joseph Murphy. Neville went to hear him somewhat under protest to satisfy the constant urging of a friend, saying “I recall the first night I met Abdullah. I had purposely delayed going to one of his meetings because a man whose judgement I did not trust had insisted on my attendance. At the end of the meeting, Ab approached me and said: ‘Neville, you are six months late.’ Startled, I questioned how he knew my name, when he said: ‘The brothers told me you would be here six months ago.’ Then he added: ‘I will remain until you have received all that I must give you. Then I will depart.’ He, too, may have longed to go, but he had to wait for me.”From this introduction, Neville studied with Abdullah learning Hebrew, the Kabbalah, and the hidden symbolic meaning of Scripture.
Neville Goddard’s Lectures
After traveling extensively throughout the United States, Neville eventually made his home in Los Angeles where, in the 1950s, he gave a series of talks on television and radio, and for many years lectured regularly to capacity audiences at the Wilshire Ebell Theater. In the 1960s and early 1970s, he confined most of his lectures to Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.
In his early lectures and books Neville dealt solely with what he called The Law, the technique of creating one’s physical reality through imagining. It is this portion of his expression that most closely accords with the teachings of the New Thought movement. In describing The Law, Neville related how he made a sea voyage from New York to see his family in Barbados during theDepression, without any money of his own.
He related how, by the use of imaginal power, he was honorably discharged from military service to continue his lectures during World War II. He gave his audiences in San Francisco in the 1950s and 1960s accounts of how others had made use of The Law. He discussed it on television in the Los Angeles area, saying, “Learn how to use your imaginal power, lovingly, on behalf of others, for Man is moving into a world where everything is subject to his imaginal power.