In February 1873, James and Ellen White were in California when they received word that the General Conference session would be held in Battle Creek, opening on March 11. James, of course, would attend, but Ellen wanted to get on with her writing. She was working on the book The Spirit of Prophecy, volume 2, on the life of Christ. The four-volume Spirit of Prophecy Series was published between 1870 and 1884. In approximately 1,700 pages it expanded on the great controversy theme, which had been covered sketchily in Spiritual Gifts, Volumes I to IV. Later the theme was expanded in the 3,700-plus pages of the five-volume Conflict of the Ages Series.*
But when the next issue of the Review came it carried this note:
A Special Request: We deem it of the utmost importance that Brother and Sister White attend this meeting; and we therefore invite and urge, in the strongest terms, their attendance at this session of the General Conference, if their health will permit them to do so (ibid., Feb. 11, 1873).
Ellen White would go East with her husband. It would be a full 21 months before the Whites would be able to return to California.