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Annie Besant

(1847-1933)

Annie Besant
image from The Encyclopeadia of the Unexplained, Routledge and Kegan Paul, p.54

A British social reformer and Theosophist, Annie Besant was one of the most active and remarkable personalities of her time. Born Annie Wood, in London, she married a Church of England clergyman named Besant in 1867, but the marriage failed. An ardent Anglo-Catholic as a girl, she moved towards atheism and became a leading figure in the National Secular Society. In 1877 she published The Gospel of Atheism and was unsuccessfully prosecuted for selling 'obscene literature' - a tract advocating birth control. She campaigned for feminist causes, led the London match girls' strike of 1888, and became a member of the executive committee of the Fabian Society. In 1889 she announced that she had abandoned atheism and had joined the Theosophical Society. She swiftly rose to the highest ranks of the Society and after the death of Madame Blavatsky in 1891 she led the majority faction in the Society. With C. W. Leadbeater, who had great influence with her, she sponsored Jiddu Krishnamurti as the new world teacher. She also played an important part in Indian nationalist politics. She died convinced that she would swiftly be reborn again. Her numerous books include her Autobiography, 1893, a translation of the Bhagavad Gita, 1895, The Ancient Wisdom, 1897 (on Theosophy), Man and His Bodies, 1900 [see Subtle Body], Death and After, 1901 [see Bardo], Esoteric Christianity, 1905 [see Esoteric], Introduction to Yoga, 1908; and, with Leadbeater, Reincarnation, 1898, Thought Forms, 1901, Man: Whence, How and Whither, 1913, and Occult Chemistry, 1919.  These, together with the works authored by Leadbeater, form the philosophical basis for the Adyar branch of Theosophy.

slightly modified from Richard Cavendish, ed.  The Encyclopeadia of the Unexplained, (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London), 1974, p.54


links on the Web Links - Annie Besant links on the Web

web pageAnnie Besant, Heretic - very good coverage

web pageThe Peaceful Activist -  PROFILE: Annie Besant - The great English activist Annie Besant focused her life on social justice - by The Toronto Vegetarian Association

web pageInternational Women: Annie Besant

infopleaseBesant, Annie - short bio



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page uploaded 11 March 2000; last modified 7 August, 2004.