Annie Besant was women’s rights activist, orator, who left the Anglican Church, and was a secularist reformer, as an atheist and Fabian socialist. Her deepening interest in theosophy caused her to break with the Fabians and Marxists. This was before she joined the T.S. — “marching towards theosophy” around 1888.
Helena P. Blavatsky had some good words about her before then:
“Another lady orator, of deservedly great fame, both for eloquence and learning – good Mrs. Annie Besant—without believing in controlling spirits, or, for that matter, in her own spirit, yet speaks and writes such sensible and wise things that we might almost say that one of her speeches or chapters contains more matter to benefit humanity, than would equip a modern trance-speaker for an entire oratorical career. There are, of course, great differences between these trance-speakers, and at least one—Mrs. Emma Hardinge-Britten, one of the founders of our Society—always speaks with power and to the point. But even in her case, is the trance-discourse above the capacity of her own large mind?.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings: 1882-1883, Vol. 4, p. 124.)
Helena P. Blavatsky, gave in The Theosophist, a similar mutual review of Edward Bellamy, a socialist. Is it, because H.P.B. is secretly, a socialist? No. She mentions in the article, Mrs. Emma Hardinge Britten, a name often forgotten, but whom became very adversarial towards the Theosophical Society’s direction to Eastern Occultism.
Although, I disagree with certain things taught by Annie Besant, and her choices as a leader, the story and life of Annie Besant inspired me toward theosophy some years ago, when I was an atheist. Annie Besant, has done many other great things, and such is the problem with trying to slander the entire career of someone, where it is not truly warranted. Annie Besant was a masterful orator and “diplomat” of religions we could say. The sole purpose for showing the quote is the kind of eye Helena P. Blavatsky had, for people, whom had this spirit of the “theosophist,” she sought out for, even as Annie Besant was a widely out-spoken atheist and socialist at the time.
Annie Besant’s Story
Helena P. Blavatsky, Trance-Speakers, H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings: 1882-1883, Vol. 4, p. 124.