Annie Besant

(redirected from Annie Wood Besant)
Annie Besant
Birthday
BirthplaceClapham, London, United Kingdom
Died
Known for Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator

Besant, Annie

Besant, Annie (bĕzˈant), 1847–1933, English social reformer and theosophist, b. Annie Wood. She steadily grew away from Christianity and in 1873 separated from her husband, a Protestant clergyman. In 1879 the courts deprived her of her children because of her atheism and alleged unconventionality. As a member of the National Secular Society she preached free thought and, as a member of the Fabian society, socialism. With Charles Bradlaugh she edited the National Reformer and with him reprinted an old pamphlet on birth control, The Fruits of Philosophy, for which they were tried (1877) on a charge of immorality and acquitted. In 1889 she embraced theosophy, becoming a disciple of Mme Blavatsky and, later, her biographer. She pursued her mission to India, where she soon became involved in nationalist politics. She founded the Central Hindu College at Benares (Varanasi) in 1898 and in 1916 established the Indian Home Rule League and became its president. She was president of the Indian National Congress in 1917, but later split with Gandhi. She traveled (1926–27) in England and the United States with her protégé Jiddu Krishnamurti, whom she announced as the new Messiah. President of the Theosophical Society from 1907, she wrote an enormous number of books and pamphlets on theosophy. Her works include her autobiography (1893), Four Great Religions (1897), The Ancient Wisdom (1897), and a translation of the Bhagavad Gita (1905).

Bibliography

See biographies by A. H. Nethercot (1960, 1963), R. Dinnage (1987), and C. Wessinger (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Besant, Annie

 

Born Oct. 1, 1847, in London; died Sept. 20, 1933, in Madras. Public figure in India.

Until 1893, Besant was engaged in political and publicistic activity in England. In 1893 she moved to India, where she was head of a theosophical society. During World War I she came forward as one of the initiators and leaders of the Home Rule movement—that is, the movement to attain Indian self-government within the framework of the British Empire by constitutional methods. In this movement Besant collaborated closely with the party of the Indian National Congress. To a considerable degree, the unification of the extremists and the moderates in the Indian National Congress in 1916 was due to Besant’s efforts. In the 1920’s, Besant left the Indian nationalist movement.

L. I. IUREVICH

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Given the theme of synesthesia, this is no surprise: Theosophy was just as happy to mix and match the senses (see Annie Wood Besant and C.
Author of Creative Negativity: Four Victorian Exemplars of the Female Quest, she argues that such Victorian questors as Julia Margaret Cameron, Anne Thackeray Ritchie, Annie Wood Besant, and Elizabeth Robins apply a set of strategies she denotes "creative negativity" to enable and disguise their journeys of self.
While Cameron's photography and Ritchie's writings exemplify concrete artistic manifestations of "creative negativity," Annie Wood Besant seems herself to have lived MacKay's concept.