Definitions

Besant

Besant

[bez-uhnt, buh-zant]
Besant, Annie, 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).

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

Besant, Sir Walter, 1836-1901, English novelist and humanitarian, grad. Christ's College, Cambridge, 1859. He taught at the Royal College of Mauritius from 1861 to 1867. After his return to England he devoted himself to writing and to various causes, among them the improvement of the copyright laws. His first novels (in collaboration with James Rice) won immediate popularity. Romantic and somewhat florid in style, they include The Golden Butterfly (1876) and Ready-Money Mortiboy (1872). Many of Besant's novels, written after the collaboration with Rice, dealt with social problems; among them were All Sorts and Conditions of Men (1882) and Children of Gibeon (1886). Besant was one of the most widely read novelists of the late 19th cent. He was knighted in 1895.

See his autobiography (1902, repr. 1971).

orig. Annie Wood

(born Oct. 1, 1847, London, Eng.—died Sept. 20, 1933, Adyar, Madras) British social reformer. She was a prominent Fabian socialist in the 1880s before becoming an adherent of theosophy in 1889. She served as international president of the Theosophical Society from 1907 until her death, and her writings are still considered some of the best expositions of theosophical belief. After immigrating to India, she became an Indian independence leader and established the Indian Home Rule League in 1916.

Learn more about Besant, Annie with a free trial on Britannica.com.

orig. Annie Wood

(born Oct. 1, 1847, London, Eng.—died Sept. 20, 1933, Adyar, Madras) British social reformer. She was a prominent Fabian socialist in the 1880s before becoming an adherent of theosophy in 1889. She served as international president of the Theosophical Society from 1907 until her death, and her writings are still considered some of the best expositions of theosophical belief. After immigrating to India, she became an Indian independence leader and established the Indian Home Rule League in 1916.

Learn more about Besant, Annie with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Search another word or see besanton Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;