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Besant [née Wood], Annie (1847–1933), theosophist and politician in India, was born at 2 Fish Street Hill in the City of London on 1 October 1847, the only daughter of William Persse Wood (d. 1852), underwriter, and his wife, Emily Roche Morris (...

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Annie Besant (1847–1933) by Hayman Selig Mendelssohn © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna (1831–1891), founder of theosophy, was born at Yekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk), Ukraine, at midnight on 30–31 July 1831, the daughter of Colonel Peter Hahn (d. 1873), descended from the counts Rotenstern-Hahn of Mecklenburg, and of his wife, Helena Pavolovna Fadeev. She was a petted, wayward, invalid child whose mother, a novelist who advocated women's emancipation, died when she was small. From girlhood onwards she was a beguiling story-teller. On 7 July 1848 she married an older man, ...

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Codd, Clara Margaret (1876–1971), suffragette and theosophist, was born on 10 October 1876 at Pill House, Bishops Tawton, Barnstaple, north Devon, the eldest of ten children of Henry Frederick Codd (d. 1899) and his wife, Clara Virginia, née Botto (1853–1927). She was educated at home by governesses, and at fifteen rejected Christianity and declared herself an atheist. When she was twenty-three her father, a school inspector, died and the family moved to ...

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Farr [married name Emery], Florence Beatrice [performing name Mary Lester] (1860–1917), author and mystic, was born on 7 July 1860 at Southlands, Bromley, Kent, the last of the eight children of William Farr (1807–1883), medical statistician, honorary MD, and FRS, and his second wife, ...

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Florence Beatrice Farr (1860–1917) by unknown photographer, c. 1905 [with her Dolmetsch psaltery] courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

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Foxcroft [née Whichcote], Elizabeth (1600–1679), theosophist, was born at Stoke, Shropshire, the daughter of Christopher Whichcote of Whichcote Hall, Stoke, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Fox. Some time before 1629 she married George Foxcroft, London merchant and subsequently agent for the East India Company...

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Krishnamurti, Jiddu (1895–1986), religious teacher, was born on 11 May 1895 at Madanapalle, between Madras and Bangalore, the eighth son of Narianiah, a Telugu-speaking Brahman employed by the British as a rent-collector, and his wife and cousin, Jiddu Sanjeevama (d. 1905). When compulsorily retired, ...

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Lutyens [née Bulwer-Lytton], Lady Emily (1874–1964), theosophist, was born on 26 December 1874 in Paris, the third surviving child among the five children of (Edward) Robert Bulwer-Lytton, first earl of Lytton (1831–1891), a diplomatist and poet, and his wife, Edith Bulwer-Lytton (1841–1936)...

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Lady Emily Lutyens (1874–1964) by F. A. Swaine, 1913 © Mary Evans Picture Library