Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Besant, Annie

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BESANT, ANNIE (bes′ant), an English theosophist and author, born in London, Oct. 1, 1847; was married in 1867 to the Rev. Frank Besant, brother of Sir Walter Besant, but was legally separated from him in 1873. She manifested an earnest interest in social and political topics, and, in 1874, became connected with the National Secular Society. Owing to the publication of "Fruits of Philosophy," Mrs. Besant was prosecuted, in connection with Charles Bradlaugh (June, 1877), but the prosecution failed. In 1883 she announced her adhesion to Socialism. For three years she was a member of the School Board of London. She was prominently connected with various socialistic movements, and in 1889 joined the Theosophical Society, of which she became president in 1907. She visited the United States in 1891 and 1892-1893 and lectured on Madame Blavatsky and reincarnation, theosophy, and occultism. Among her numerous publications are "Reincarnation" (1892); "Autobiography" (1893); "Death and After" (1893); "Building of the Kosmos" (1894); "The Self and Its Sheaths" (1895); "Path of Discipleship" (1896); "Four Great Religions" (1897); "The Ancient Wisdom" (1897); "Three Paths to Union with God" (1897); etc.