𝑯𝑰𝑺𝑻𝑶𝑹𝒀 𝑨𝑩𝑶𝑼𝑻 𝑨𝑵𝑵𝑰𝑬 𝑩𝑬𝑺𝑨𝑵𝑻

“A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult

Annie Besant(1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist, theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer, orator, educationist, and philanthropist. Regarded as a champion of human freedom, she was an ardent supporter of both Irish and Indian self-rule.She was a prolific author with over three hundred books and pamphlets to her credit. As an educationist, her contributions included being one of the founders of the BANARAS HINDU UNIVERSITY.

She also became involved in politics in India, joining the Indian National Congress. When World War I broke out in 1914, she helped launch the Home Rule League to campaign for democracy in India, and dominion status within the British Empire. This led to her election as president of the Indian National Congress, in late 1917. In the late 1920s, Besant travelled to the United States with her protégé and adopted son Jiddu Krishnamurti, who she claimed was the new Messiah and incarnation of Buddha. Krishnamurti rejected these claims in 1929.After the war, she continued to campaign for Indian independence and for the causes of theosophy, until her death in 1933.

HOME RULE MOVEMENT :

As early as 1902 Besant had written that “India is not ruled for the prospering of the people, but rather for the profit of her conquerors, and her sons are being treated as a conquered race.”. She encouraged Indian national consciousness, attacked caste and child marriage, and worked effectively for Indian education.Along with her theosophical activities, Besant continued to actively participate in political matters. She had joined the Indian National Congress. As the name suggested, this was originally a debating body, which met each year to consider resolutions on political issues. Mostly it demanded more of a say for middle-class Indians in British Indian government. It had not yet developed into a permanent mass movement with local organisation. About this time her co-worker Leadbeater moved to Sydney.

In 1914 World War I broke out, and Britain asked for the support of its Empire in the fight against Germany. Echoing an Irish nationalist slogan, Besant declared, “England’s need is India’s opportunity”. As editor of the New India newspaper, she attacked the colonial government of India and called for clear and decisive moves towards self-rule. As with Ireland, the government refused to discuss any changes while the war lasted.

EARLY LIFE :

Annie Wood was born in 1847 in London into an upper-middle-class family. She was the daughter of William Burton Persse Wood (1816–1852) and Emily Roche Morris (died 1874). The Woods originated from Devon and her great-uncle was the Whig politician Sir Matthew Wood, 1st Baronet from whom derives the Page Wood baronets. Her father was an Englishman who lived in Dublin and attained a medical degree, having attended Trinity College Dublin. Her mother was an Irish Catholic, from a family of more modest means. Besant would go on to make much of her Irish ancestry and supported the cause of Irish self-rule throughout her adult life. Her cousin Kitty O’Shea (born Katharine Wood) was noted for having an affair with Charles Stewart Parnell, leading to his downfall. Her father died when she was five years old, leaving the family almost penniless. Her mother supported the family by running a boarding house for boys at Harrow School. However, she was unable to support Annie and persuaded her friend Ellen Marryat to care for her. Marryat made sure that she had a good education. Annie was given a strong sense of duty to society and an equally strong sense of what independent women could achieve. As a young woman, she was also able to travel widely in Europe. There she acquired a taste for Roman Catholic colour and ceremony that never left her.

Reformer and secularist :

She fought for the causes she thought were right, starting with freedom of thought, women’s rights, secularismbirth controlFabian socialism and workers’ rights. She was a leading member of the National Secular Society alongside Charles Bradlaugh and the South Place Ethical Society.

Later years and death :

Besant tried as a person, theosophist, and president of the Theosophical Society, to accommodate Krishnamurti’s views into her life, without success; she vowed to personally follow him in his new direction although she apparently had trouble understanding both his motives and his new message.The two remained friends until the end of her life.

In 1931 she became ill in India.

Besant died on 20 September 1933, at age 85, in Adyar, Madras Presidency, British India. Her body was cremated.

She was survived by her daughter, Mabel. After her death, colleagues Jiddu KrishnamurtiAldous Huxley, Guido Ferrando, and Rosalind Rajagopal, built the Happy Valley School in California, now renamed the Besant Hill School of Happy Valley in her honour

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