Autobiographical Sketches

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Arc Manor, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 168 pages
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About the author (2008)

Annie Besant nee Wood, 1 October 1847 - 20 September 1933) was a prominent British Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule. She was married at 19 to Frank Besant but separated from him over religious differences. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society (NCS) and writer and a close friend of Charles Bradlaugh. In 1877 they were prosecuted for publishing a book by birth control campaigner Charles Knowlton. The scandal made them famous and Bradlaugh was elected Member of Parliament for Northampton in 1880. She became involved with Union organisers including the Bloody Sunday demonstration and the London matchgirls strike of 1888 and was a leading speaker for the Fabian Society and the Marxist Social Democratic Federation (SDF). She was elected to the London School Board for Tower Hamlets, topping the poll even though few women were qualified to vote at that time. In 1890 Besant met Helena Blavatsky and over the next few years her interest in Theosophy grew while her interest in secular matters waned. She became a member of the Society and a highly successful lecturer in Theosophy. As part of her Theosophy-related work, she travelled to India where in 1898 she helped establish the Central Hindu College, and in 1902 she established the first overseas Lodge of the International Order of Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain in England. Over the next few years she established lodges in many parts of the British Empire. In 1907 she became President of the Theosophical Society.

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