Helena Petrovna Blavatsky ( H P Blavatsky ) was born on August 12, 1831, at Dnepropetrovsk (Ekaterinoslav), Russian Ukraine, daughter of Colonel Peter Alexeyevich von Hahn and novelist Helena Andreyevna (née de Fadeyev). In 1849, at the age of 16, she married the much older N. V. Blavatsky, and some months later began more than 20 years of extensive travel, bringing her into contact with mystic traditions the world over. The travels provided a basis for Madame Blavatsky's claim to have studied for seven years under Hindu mahatmas (masters) in the East. She also claimed to have several times entered Tibet, which at that time was practically inaccessable to foreigners.
In 1873 Madame Blavatsky arrived in New York. In July 1875 she was urged "to establish a philosophico-religious society," and in the Fall of the same year she became the principal founder, along with Col. Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan Judge, of The Theosophical Society. She devoted the rest of her life to its humanitarian and educational objectives.
During these times H P Blavatsky was the first Russian woman to become naturalized as an American citizen. She started to write her first major work, Isis Unveiled, and after its publication in 1877 she and H. S. Olcott left for India. There they worked to re-establish Oriental philosophical and religious ideas, largely through the pages of The Theosophist, a magazine which Madame Blavatsky founded and edited. She and Olcott established a new headquarters for the Theosophical Society in India. Whilst on a visit to Sri Lanka they joined with a Buddhist tradition of faith.
In 1884, while Madame Blavatsky was traveling in Europe, disgruntled Theosophical Society employees in India went to local missionaries with forged documents, bringing charges of fraud against her. These charges were investigated and, although an initial report was unfavourable to Madame Blavatsky, it was eventually deemed that the charges were unjustified.
The stress associated with the investigation contributed to a break down in Madame Blavatsky's health and in 1885 she left India for Europe, where she continued to write and organise on behalf of the Theosophical Society. In 1887 she settled in London, and began a new magazine Lucifer ("Light-bringer").
Her principal work entitled "The Secret Doctrine" was published in 1888 and, in the same year, aided by W. Q. Judge, she formed the Esoteric Section of The Theosophical Society. Shortly afterwards she wrote The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence. In 1890 she became head of a newly-established European Section. She died in London on May 8, 1891 after many years of chronic illness.