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Books Year : 2017

Annie Besant (1847-1933): Struggles and Quest


Social and political reformer, women’s rights activist, prolific writer and orator extraordinaire, Annie Besant (1847-1933) was one of the best-known opinion- formers in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain and beyond. Working alongside freethinkers, socialists and the suffragettes, Besant pioneered birth control and fought for exploited workers in the East End of London, while pursuing a spiritual quest that led her to Theosophy in 1889. As president of the Theosophical Society from 1907 until her death, she made a major contribution to the occult and spiritual revival of the time. Throughout her life Besant fought for both Irish and Indian self-rule. Elected as president of the Indian National Congress in 1917, she continues to be regarded as one of the nation’s freedom fighters. Streets bear her name in India, and a statue of her stands in Chennai alongside other notable Indian leaders. So why has such an inspiring and multi-talented woman fallen into relative obscurity? In this biography, Muriel Pécastaing-Boissière casts fresh light on the life of this remarkable woman, meticulously exploring the links between Besant’s freethinking, socialism, feminism, criticism of the Empire and conversion to Theosophy. With the aim of re-evaluating and restoring her historical significance, Dr Pécastaing-Boissière uses Besant’s own writings to examine her choices and actions in their moral, social and spiritual contexts. She thus provides a rich insight into one of the most influential women of her day.


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hal-03895392 , version 1 (12-12-2022)



  • HAL Id : hal-03895392 , version 1


Muriel Pecastaing-boissiere. Annie Besant (1847-1933): Struggles and Quest. Theosophical Publishing House Limited, 2017, ISBN 978-1-9998157-0-7. ⟨hal-03895392⟩
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