Annie Besant, b. Oct. 1, 1847, d. Sept. 30, 1933, was an English social reformer and theosophist. She married Frank Besant, an Anglican clergyman, in 1867 but separated from him five years later because of doctrinal differences. She joined the National Secular Society and with the atheist journalist Charles Bradlaugh crusaded for free thought, birth control, and women's rights. Besant was also a member of the socialistic Fabian Society. A few years after her conversion (1889) to Theosophy--a philosophical religious movement based on mystical insights--Besant went to India, where she spent the rest of her life. She founded the Central Hindu College at Varanasi and was politically active. For many years, beginning in 1916, she campaigned for Indian home rule. She also traveled extensively in Great Britain and the United States with Krishnamurti, her adopted son whom she presented as a new messiah, a claim he later renounced. Besant wrote widely on theosophy and was president of the Theosophical Society from 1907 until her death.
Annie Besant (1987)
The First Five Lives of Annie Besant (1960) and The Last Four Lives of Annie Besant (1963).
Arthur H. Nethercot