Theosophy . The Theosophical Movement . Theosophical HistoryNumber 7 — November 2002
The Library’s collection includes little-known but interesting publications that are historically significant and provide information about the theosophical movement and the people who have been instrumental in its development. Following are details about some of those publications.
Annie Besant had a considerable involvement in society generally, as well as in The Theosophical Society. She joined the Society in 1889 and was its international President from 1907 until her death in 1933. She had a strong social conscience which was expressed through various activities and writings; when she became a member she was already well-known in many quarters and had made a significant impact on the public. The Library holds a substantial amount of material to do with her various activities.
A radical publication with which she had been closely associated was The National Reformer, Secular (later Radical) Advocate and Freethought Journal, with Charles Bradlaugh as editor. She joined this publication in 1874 using the pseudonym “Ajax” and producing a regular column “Daybreak”. She later joined Bradlaugh as co-editor from 1881 to 1887. Bradlaugh was a strong advocate of the freethought movement and had a significant influence on her life.
The issue of July 2, 1876 publicised Annie Besant’s involvement, with news about her lecturing engagements and an advertisement of “Works by Mrs Besant” including: History of the Great French Revolution; The Political Status of Women; August Comte: his Philosophy, his Religion, and his Sociology; Catholicism and Rationalism: a review of a 2 nights discussion. The December 1876 issue carried an advertisement for The Freethinkers Text-book with a section by Annie Besant. Later issues contained details of the attempt by herself and Bradlaugh to make available The Fruits of Philosophy, the Knowlton pamphlet on birth control, which was considered obscene by the authorities, and details of the subsequent court case. At the time, the charge against them was serious, and both promoters faced possible imprisonment. The June 23, 1877 issue of The National Reformer was a “Special Trial” number. Details of an edition of the Knowles pamphlet are given below on page 3 under “Pamphlets”.
In general, The National Reformer published comments and assessments of the latest philosophies and political developments, book reviews, etc. Its mottoes reflect its approach, e.g.: “Clear the way. Our Road is onward”; “Freeman he is not, but slave, who stands not on my side”; “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. The Campbell Library’s holding covers 1876, 1877, 1881, 1883 and 1884.
Annie Besant lectured extensively for The Theosophical Society and many of her talks have been published. The two following publications are archival material in the Library:
Lectures delivered in Melbourne by Annie Besant, September 1894, is a unique typewritten document, 105 pages. Topics are: The Dangers that Threaten Society; The Evolution of Man; Hypnotism and Mesmerism; Reincarnation; Theosophy and its Teachings;
Mrs Besant’s Australian Lecture Tour, Press Notices, 1908, 140 pages, is a comprehensive large-format, hand-pasted, meticulous record of reports regarding this tour that appeared in the Australian press . There are also 5 extra pages with clippings from the New Zealand leg of the tour. Also a detailed statement of costs.
Another of Annie Besant’s passions was to help free India from British rule and she used various means to try to achieve this end, including producing her crusading newspaper New India. She launched this Anglo-Indian newspaper in 1914, and continued as editor until its closure in 1932. The Campbell Library has The India That Shall Be: Signed articles by Annie Besant from “New India”, T.P.H., Adyar, 1943, 264 pages; and Annie Besant — Builder of New India — Her fundamental Principles of Nation Building, T.P.H., Adyar, 1942, 556 pages.
A Historical Retrospective 1875-1896 of The Theosophical Society by Henry S. Olcott. Extract from the Twenty-First Anniversary Address of the President Founder of the Society. Mainly the historical record of the T.S. up to the time of the 1895 secession of the American Section of The Theosophical Society. Theosophical Society Madras, 1896, 32 pages.
Light from the East: ‘Speeches Delivered at the Public Meeting in the Portman Rooms, Baker Street, London, July 10, 1891 in connection with The First Annual Convention of The Theosophical Society in Europe’, Theosophical Publishing Society, London, 1891, 30pp. Speakers and topics were:
Colonel H.S. Olcott (President-Founder, T.S.) “Origin of The TS and the spread of the Movement”;
A.P. Sinnett (President London Lodge, T.S.) “Spiritual Evolution”;
Bertram Keightley (Gen. Sec. Indian Section, T.S.) “Reincarnation”;
William Q. Judge (Vice President, T.S.) “Karma”;
Annie Besant (President, Blavatsky Lodge, London, T.S.) “Ethics, Spiritual and Moral Growth”.
People from the Other World by Henry S. Olcott, American Publishing Co., 1875, 488 pages. This work, “profusely Illustrated”, is a detailed account of spiritual phenomena witnessed by the author at the Eddy Homestead, and a report of original investigations made by him, under test conditions, into alleged materializations of John and Katie King. 1875 is also the year that Olcott, in conjunction with H. P. Blavatsky, W. Q. Judge and others, founded The Theosophical Society.
The Rationale of Mesmerism by A. P. Sinnett, Houghton Mifflin, 1892, 232 pages. Sinnett is also author of other works including The Occult World, Esoteric Buddhism, Karma - a theosophical novel, etc.
The Purpose of Theosophy by Mrs A. P. (Patience) Sinnett, Bombay Theosophical Publication Fund, 2nd ed. 1887, 55 pages.
The Society is active throughout the world, including in Russia. No Religion Higher than Truth by Maria Carlston, is a history of the theosophical movement in Russia 1895-1993. Princeton University Press, 1993, 298 pages.
The Library has produced a computerised ‘search and find’ index of its pamphlet collection. It has over 550 individual pamphlets covering the theosophical movement, or individuals concerned with the movement, from early days to the present. This is in addition to Series of pamphlets such as Adyar Pamphlets and U.L.T. Pamphlets which are included in the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals.
There is a range of subjects and authors, for example:
The Fruits of Philosophy: “Besant-Bradlaugh — Prosecuted Work — Young Married People‘s Companion — Advocating Limitation of Offspring”. Marked ‘For Private Reading‘. Australian Edition, no date, with a preface by Bradlaugh under ‘2nd New Edition’ (originally published 1877), 55 pages;
The Internment of Mrs Annie Besant: Extracts from the English and Indian Press that dealt with the matter, Canada Indian League, 1917, 32 pages;
J. Krishnamurti — Some Impressions by K. S. Chandrasekhara Aiyar (retired Chief Judge of Mysore, India) The Star Publishing Trust, no date, 22 pages;
Theosophy is the Next Step: Fifteen different titles showing new directions in human welfare, e.g.: In Internationalism; In Nationalism; The Approach of Eastern and Western Psychology; For Those Who Love. Theosophical Society Publicity Dept., probably late 1940s or early 1950s, between 12 and 22 pages.
An Evolutionary Interpretation of “Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs” by William Henderson, The Theosophical Society in Ireland, 1939, 16 pages;
Various pamphlets by Geoffrey Hodson, e.g.: Clairvoyant Research and the Life After Death, T.P.H. London, 1935, 30 pages; An Animals’ Bill of Rights, Council of Combined Animal Welfare Org. of N. Z., 1952, 4 pages. Hodson was then President of the Council. The Humanitarian Cause — Its Extreme Urgency, The Theosophical Order of Service, N. Z., no date, 8 pages.
The Library has approximately 140 periodical titles dating from the early days of the theosophical movement and containing much fascinating material for any student of theosophical philosophy and history. One publication that repays careful reading is Lucifer, “A Theosophical Magazine”. It was first published by The Blavatsky Lodge of The Theosophical Society, London, in September 1887 and was co-edited initially by H. P. Blavatsky and Mabel Collins. The title provoked some questions, but as the editors explain: in “Latin, Luciferus is the Light-Bringer, the Morning Star”. In 1897 its name was changed to The Theosophical Review with Annie Besant and the highly-respected scholar G. R. S. Mead as editors. This ceased publication in 1909.
In the first issue of Lucifer H. P. Blavatsky, who carried the main burden of editorial work, writes “...the first and most important, if not the sole object of the magazine .... is to bring light to ‘the hidden things of darkness’, to show in their true aspect and their original real meaning things and names, men and their doings and customs; it is finally to fight prejudice, hypocrisy and sham in every nation, in every class of Society, as in every department of life”. She contributed many of the articles, and some of her titles are: “Theosophy and Socialism”, “Esoteric Character of the Gospels”, “Practical Occultism” and “The Origin of Evil”. Madame Blavatsky also contributed good occult fiction: “The Ensouled Violin” is one of her tales.
Mabel Collins contributed, among other things, valuable “Comments” on that spiritual text, Light on the Path. She also wrote interesting occult fiction — one is “The Blossom and The Fruit — A Tale of Love and Magic”. Reincarnation is a theme of this story.
The seventh update of the Union Index is now on our web-site. This update added indices from 1998 of Insight (previously known as The Theosophical Journal) the journal of the Theosophical Society in England, and The Canadian Theosophist the organ of the Theosophical Society in Canada, also from 1998. (An Outline Index for this latter periodical, from 1920 to Jan./Feb. 1998, is already in the Union Index). Recent issues of twelve other periodicals are also included in the update.
The Campbell Theosophical Research Library
4th floor 484 Kent Street Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Telephone: 61 2 9264 7056 Fax: 61 2 9264 5857
The Library is a specialist research and reference facility which aims to encourage the study of, and research into, theosophy, the theosophical movement, its history, and subjects related to the objects of The Theosophical Society. It has a comprehensive range of books, periodicals and other material covering these areas. It also has material that, while not directly related to the theosophical movement, gives a wider historical and cultural context. Anyone interested in its collection is welcome to use the Library which is available by appointment — please note that material may not be borrowed. Photocopying facilities are available.
The Library is a part of The Theosophical Society in Australia. The Society is a non-sectarian organisation that has no dogma and stands for freedom of search and belief.
Its objects are: