Shattock, Joanne. The Oxford Guide to British Women Writers. Oxford University Press, 1993.
Standard Name: Besant, Annie
Birth Name: Annie Wood
Married Name: Annie Besant
Used Form: the wife of a beneficed clergyman
AB is known primarily for two streams of non-fiction writing, one concerning birth control and the other the Theosophist movement. However, this omits much of the remarkable output whose topics ranged from women's rights and religion to politics and science; only a small selection from over one hundred pamphlets, lectures, and essays can be discussed here.
She often pursued various topics simultaneously. For example, during 1878 and 1879 while she was trying to regain custody of her children, she was also organising her writings on the French Revolution; translating a book from French; keeping up with her weekly journalism; producing pamphlets on atheism, republicanism, India and Ireland; sitting on committees; and, of course, continuing to lecture.
As well as such often controversial writings, AB published short fiction.
Dinnage, Rosemary. Annie Besant. Penguin, 1986.
|Connections Sort descending||Author name||Excerpt|
|Cultural formation||Charlotte Despard||
She converted to Catholicism less than a year after her husband's death, which made her a co-religionist of those she now set out to help.
Around 1909, after attending a series of lectures by...
Linklater, Andro. An Unhusbanded Life. Hutchinson, 1980.
|Cultural formation||Rose Allatini||
RA (who was probably brought up in the Jewish faith) became known as an Occultist. Higher Occultism was connected to the Theosophical Movement, which was inspired by two Indian High Initiates known as Master Koot Hoomi
|Cultural formation||Mary Gawthorpe||
MG begins her autobiography with her local identity: I was Yorkshire born. My forebears, grandparents maternal and paternal, were all born in Yorkshire, in Leeds so far as I know.
Born English therefore, she...
Gawthorpe, Mary. Up Hill to Holloway. Traversity Press, 1962.
|Family and Intimate relationships||Sir Walter Besant|
|Family and Intimate relationships||Muriel Box||
MB 's mother was christened Caroline Beatrice (Doney) but known as Bertie.
She was a woman of passion, of deep-rooted prejudices, capable of violent outbursts of temper when her will was crossed. She...
Matthew, Henry Colin Gray, Brian Harrison, and Lawrence Goldman, editors. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Box, Muriel. Odd Woman Out. Leslie Frewin, 1974.
|Family and Intimate relationships||Florence Marryat||
FM 's aunt Ellen Marryat was a significant influence on the education of Annie Woods (later Annie Besant ).
|Family and Intimate relationships||Anna Wickham||
After AW 's marriage, Alice Harper returned to London briefly and opened a physiognomy parlour in Regent Street. She also became involved in Annie Besant 's Theosophist movement.
Hepburn, James, Anna Wickham, and James Hepburn. “Anna Wickham: A Memoir”. The Writings of Anna Wickham, Free Woman and Poet, edited by Reginald Donald Smith, Virago Press, 1984, pp. 1 - 48.
Wickham, Anna, James Hepburn, and James Hepburn. “Fragment of an Autobiography: Prelude to a Spring Clean”. The Writings of Anna Wickham Free Woman and Poet, edited by Reginald Donald Smith, Virago Press, 1984, pp. 51 - 157.
A portrait of Alice...
|Family and Intimate relationships||Ella Wheeler Wilcox||
He had promised her a message from the next world, and his death precipitated her into an anxious search. She travelled to California and read avidly in spiritualist books by Sir Oliver Lodge , Annie Besant
|Family and Intimate relationships||Katharine Bruce Glasier||
KBG was devastated by her husband's death, but later she began to experience visions of his continuing presence (as she did of her son's presence after he too died).
John Bruce Glasier had...
Kelly, Gary, and Edd Applegate, editors. Dictionary of Literary Biography 190. Gale Research, 1998.
Glasier, Katharine Bruce. The Glen Book. London.
|Friends, Associates||Emmeline Pankhurst||
Among those gathering at the Pankhursts' Russell Square salon were William Morris , Annie Besant , Keir Hardie , Tom Mann , and Elizabeth Cady Stanton .
Mitchell, David J. The Fighting Pankhursts: A Study in Tenacity. MacMillan, 1967.
|Friends, Associates||Emma Frances Brooke||
EFB 's involvement with the socialist and feminist movements of the day brought her into close contact with several notable activists and revolutionaries. Through the Fabian Society , she interacted with Beatrice and Sidney Webb
|Friends, Associates||Catharine Amy Dawson Scott||
Dawson counted Violet Hunt among her closest friends in London; she also socialized with Annie Besant , Flora Annie Steel , James McNeill Whistler , and Netta Syrett .
Watts, Marjorie, and Frances King. Mrs. Sappho. Duckworth, 1987.
|Friends, Associates||William Morris||
WM 's associates included George Bernard Shaw , Annie Besant , Emery Walker , Vernon Lee , as well as Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst . His friendship with Dante Gabriel Rossetti ended in 1875, as...
|Friends, Associates||George Bernard Shaw||
He was an important figure in the lives and careers of almost innumerable women writers: a good friend of Annie Besant , Sylvia Pankhurst , Elizabeth Robins , and Christopher St John , a romantic...
|Friends, Associates||Margaret Harkness||
Probably through sisters Kate Potter Courtney (whose house Harkness often stayed at) and Beatrice Potter (later Webb) , MH began to associate with the intellectuals who frequented the Reading Room of the British Museum ...
Joseph Henry Parker took over his uncle's Oxford bookselling and publishing business; as J. H. Parker it soon became the foremost publisher of the Oxford or Tractarian Movement.
2 May 1857
A grand dome designed by Panizzi was opened in what had been the central courtyard of the British Museum .
25 August 1857
The Obscene Publications Act allowed for the censorship of pornographic materials entering Britain.
18 September 1867
Fenians staged an attack in Manchester on a police van to gain the release of two Fenian prisoners who were arrested the week before; a policeman was killed. Later five men were tried for murder...
The Custody of Infants Act made provision for women separating from their husbands to be awarded custody of children up to the age of sixteen.
The acquittal of Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Besant in their famous obscenity trial meant that distribution of birth control information was no longer illegal.
9 July 1885
Karl Pearson (then a solemn, rationalist young barrister) held the first meeting of a society designed to talk about sex in a spirit of high seriousness and sense of intellectual adventure:
the Men and Women's Club
Walkowitz, Judith R. “Science, Feminism and Romance: The Men and Women’s Club 1885-1889”. History Workshop Journal, No. 1, pp. 36 -59.
A famous meeting of the Fabian Society resolved that it was desirable for socialists to form a politial party; this was the first germ of the Labour Party .
The Law and Liberty League was founded by newspaper publisher W.T. Stead and socialist/secularist Annie Besant .
13 November 1887
Police broke up a meeting of the Social Democratic Federation (militant radicals, many of them Irish) held in Trafalgar Square, London; the day became known as Bloody Sunday.
4 February 1888
Annie Besant and W.T. Stead edited the first weekly issue of The Link: A Journal for the Servants of Man / Law and Liberty League, published in London.
One thousand four hundred women workers at the Bryant and May match factory in London went on strike, in protest against poor working conditions and low wages; this became known as the Match Girls (or...
12 August 1889
The London Dock Strike began; it aroused widespread sympathy for striking dockers.
Sixty-seven year-old phrenologist Henry Loader was prosecuted for selling two birth control manuals, The Wife's Handbook and Fruits of Philosophy.
28 March 1912
The Conciliation Bill (on suffrage) was defeated in a House of Commons vote, after passing its second reading (the previous year) with a huge majority.