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Author photo. Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?483255">NYPL Digital Gallery</a> (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

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In the 1870s Annie Besant had already gained notoriety as an estranged Anglican priest's wife who had rejected Christianity and embraced atheism. She was a famous orator who spoke on behalf of the Freethought movement, social reform, the right to publish information on contraception, improved education, and Fabian socialism. Besant perplexed her critics and admirers when, in 1889, she abandoned her atheistic stance and embraced Theosophy. The Theosophical Society had been founded in 1875 by Madame Helena Blavatsky and Colonel Henry S. Olcott and had its international headquarters in India. Theosophy's outlook affirmed the mystical components of each of the world's religions, but it was influenced especially by Hindu and Buddhist thought. By the mid-1890s, Annie Besant had made India her home, and she was elected the second president of the Theosophical Society subsequent to the death of Olcott in 1907. In India, Besant made it her special mission to uplift Hindu self-esteem, which had been severely battered by British imperialism and Christian missionaries. She founded the Central Hindu College, which later was incorporated into the new Benares Hindu University. She spoke out for social reform, and from 1913 onward she undertook political agitation for Indian home rule. She was elected president of the Indian National Congress in 1918, and she was the first person to make that position an active, year-round job. Immediately thereafter, she lost her popularity because of the rise to prominence in Indian politics of Mohandas K. Gandhi. Until the end of her life, Besant increasingly turned her attention to the promotion of a young Indian boy, Jiddu Krishnamurti, as the coming World-Teacher, a messiah who would bring about a collective human transformation resulting in unity and peace among all peoples. Despite the apparently contradictory stages of Besant's life, continuity can be detected in her consistent attempts to discover the means by which human suffering could be eliminated. Besant's books and lectures were an important factor in the popularization of Eastern, particularly Hindu, religious and philosophical thought in the West. Her books continue to have an international impact, and several of them are kept in print by the Theosophical Publishing House known in the United States as Quest Books. Bescant died in 1933. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from Esoteric Christianity
… (more)
Disambiguation Notice

Full name: Annie Wood Besant

Esoteric Christianity 134 copies, 7 reviews
Thought-Forms, 2nd edition 130 copies, 2 reviews
The Ancient Wisdom 128 copies, 3 reviews
Thought-Forms 88 copies
Karma 56 copies
Man and His Bodies 40 copies, 1 review
Annie Besant: An Autobiography 35 copies, 2 reviews
Death and After 30 copies
Riddle of Life 28 copies
The Seven Principles of Man 27 copies, 1 review
Reincarnation 26 copies, 1 review
Man: Whence, How and Whither 24 copies, 2 reviews
Dharma 21 copies, 1 review
The Masters 18 copies
Avatâras 15 copies
Seven great religions 11 copies, 1 review
Doctrine of the Heart 11 copies, 1 review
Four Great Religions 9 copies, 1 review
Theosophy 9 copies
Tres senderos de perfección 7 copies, 1 review
Talks With Class 7 copies, 1 review
Sendero del Discipulado, El 6 copies, 1 review
Duties of the Theosophist 5 copies, 1 review
Buddhism 5 copies
La Naturaleza de la memoria 4 copies, 1 review
Mysticism 4 copies
Jainism 4 copies
Hinduism 4 copies
Esipihassa 3 copies
India 3 copies
Psychology 3 copies
El Yoga 2 copies
Islam 2 copies
Lectures 1 copy
Hacia el Templo 1 copy, 1 review
Darma 1 copy, 1 review
Les formes pensées 1 copy, 1 review
Initiation 1 copy
The Bhagavad Gita (Translator, some editions) 9,036 copies, 89 reviews
Fabian Essays in Socialism (Contributor) 51 copies
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Short biography
Annie Besant was a leading women's rights activist, writer and orator, and supporter of Irish and Indian self-rule. She was also a prominent socialist and Theosophist.
Disambiguation notice
Full name: Annie Wood Besant

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