A. R. Orage


Orage held a central position in early twentieth-century cultural circles in Britain, particularly as editor of the influential New Age weekly journal. Initially trained as a teacher and working for the Leeds School Board, Orage became increasingly interested in socialist politics; a particularly lively sphere of activity in the industrial town of Leeds. In 1900, he met Holbrook Jackson and they founded the Leeds Art Club together. Its programme of talks, debates and events, encompassing a broad range of topics including Plato, Nietzsche, Theosophy and Fabian Socialism, reflects Orage’s and Jackson’s personal interests at this time. In 1906, he moved to London to pursue a career in journalism.

Supported by George Bernard Shaw, Orage and Holbrook Jackson bought and edited the New Age with Orage becoming the sole editor in 1909. India and the ‘East’ more generally loomed large in Orage’s imagination, although he never actually visited there. Under his editorship, the New Age also published articles and letters about South Asian culture and politics. Ananda Coomaraswamy contributed four articles to the journal and a number of letters to the editor. Orage responded to Coomaraswamy’s 1915 piece ‘The Hindu View of Art’ by saying: ‘In such treatises it is usual to find more sound than sense, more learning than wisdom, more chaff, than wheat; but in Dr. Coomaraswamy’s hands the subject becomes substantial and intelligible.’ Orage visited Coomaraswamy in Boston where the later was a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The New Age also contained contributions on Indian art by E. B. Havell and carried notices of the India Society. Its art critic, Huntly Carter, referred to Indian art and the India Society in his articles before the First World War.

After the war, Orage became increasingly interested in the economic theory of social credit. His interest in mysticism and the occult also deepened through his associations with the Serbian mystic Dimiti Mitrinovi and the occultist P. D. Ouspensky. He became a disciple of the Russian mystic George Gurdjieff. In October 1922 Orage left his editorial position at the New Age, and spent a year at Gurdjieff's institute, Le Prieuré, at Fontainebleau. He then spent a considerable amount of time in America lecturing and writing about philosophy and religion where he married Jessie Dwight (after a divorce from his first wife, Jean) who was co-owner of the Sunwise Turn Bookshop in New York which published Ananda Coomaraswamy’s work. Orage returned to England in 1930, setting up the New English Weekly in 1932, and again becoming the editor of a journal championing avant-garde writing, thought, art and political theory. He died suddenly in 1934 and was buried in Hampstead under a gravestone carved by Eric Gill, a sculptor with whom he had had a long association.

Published works: 

Frederick Nietzsche and the Dionysian Spirit of the Age (1906)

Consciousness, Animal, Human and Superhuman (1907)

Nietzsche in Outline and Aphorism (1907)

National Guilds (1914)

An Alphabet of Economics (1917)

Readers and Writers (1922)

Selected Essays and Critical Writings (1934)


Editorial, New Age, 30 November 1907.

Date of birth: 
22 Jan 1873
Contributions to periodicals: 

New Age

New English Weekly


Anything that can bring home to Englishmen the meaning of India and Indian Government is welcome…It is strange that no country has more love for nationalism at home and more hatred for it elsewhere than England.

Secondary works: 

Gibbons, Tom H., Rooms in the Darwin Hotel: Studies in English Literary Criticism and Ideas, 1880–1920 (Nedlands: University of Western Australia Press, 1973)

Hastings, Beatrice, The Old ‘New Age’: Orage, and Others (London: Blue Moon Press, 1936)

Mairet, Philip, A. R. Orage: A Memoir (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1936)

Martin, Wallace, The ‘New Age’ Under Orage (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1967)

Milburn, Diane, The Deutschlandbild of A. R. Orage and the New Age Circle (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1996)

Selver, Paul, Orage and the ‘New Age’ Circle: Reminiscences and Reflections (London: Allen & Unwin, 1959)

Steele, T., Alfred Orage and the Leeds Arts Club, 1893–1923 (Aldershot: Scolars Press, 1990)

Welch, L., Orage with Gurdjieff in America (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982)


There was a strong anti-imperialist vein running through New Age editorials as this snippet makes clear.

Archive source: 

Letters and correspondence, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to Patrick Geddes, National Library of Scotland

Letters to Holbrook Jackson, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin

City of birth: 
Dacre, North Yorkshire
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Alfred Richard Orage

Date of death: 
06 Nov 1934
Location of death: 
Tags for Making Britain: 



Lucifer was the organ of the Theosophical Society in Britain. It was a monthly journal that included articles about Theosophical teachings and philosophies. The journal also reported upon Theosophical activities.

Other names: 

Became The Theosophical Review in 1897

Date began: 
15 Jan 1887
Key Individuals' Details: 

Editors: H. P. Blavatsky and Mabel Collins from 1887

H. P. Blavatsky from February 1889

H. P. Blavatsky and Annie Besant from September 1889

Annie Besant from June 1891, with sub-editor G. R. S. Mead

Date ended: 
15 Aug 1897
Books Reviewed Include: 

Lala Baijnath, England and India

Britain and India


Britain and India began in January 1920 as a monthly journal in order to promote understanding and unity between the two countries. It was edited by the Australian Theosophist, Mrs Josephine Ransom, in London, and was the organ of the Britain and India Association that began at the same time. The journal included articles ranging from political statements, reviews of books, interviews with key Indian individuals (including Rabindranath Tagore and Sarojini Naidu) to accounts of events in London for British and Indian audiences and reprints of speeches given by Indians in London halls (such as by C. R. Jinarajadasa and Yusuf Ali).

By August 1920, the journal had to be produced bi-monthly, and it was discontinued in December 1920 due to financial constraints. The journal was particularly concerned with responding to the Jallianwalla Bagh Massacre in Amritsar and was keen to make sure the event was not forgotten in its readers' minds. It also promoted women's associations and education for Indian women in Britain. The journal provided regular accounts of the performances put on by Kedar Nath Das Gupta's Union of the East and West. On 30 October 1920, the association hosted a conference on India in London.

Date began: 
01 Jan 1920

Contributors: Chinnammalu Amma, Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, N. C. Daruwalla, Jamnadas K. Gandhi (Gandhi's nephew), Noor Inayat Khan (head of the Sufi order in England), V. K.  Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (member of the Indian Khilafat Delegation), Thakur Jessarajsinghji Seesodi, Khalid Sheldrake.

Date ended: 
01 Dec 1920
Books Reviewed Include: 

Ali, Maulvi Muhammad, Islam: The Religion of Humanity (Unwin Brothers)

Kaumudi, Kavita, Great Ganga the Guru; or How a Seeker Sought the Real (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner)

Singh, Saint Nihal, The King’s Indian Allies: The Rajas and their India and India’s Fighters: Their Mettle, History and Services to Britain


7 Southampton Street
London, WC2R 0LQ
United Kingdom

C. E. M. Joad


C. E. M. Joad was an English philosopher and popular educator. He was educated at Oxford and, after serving as a civil servant, was appointed Head of Philosophy at Birkbeck College (University of London) in 1930. A prolific writer and conservationist, he shot to fame as a broadcasting star when he joined the BBC radio programme ‘The Brain Trust’ in 1942. He was convicted of fare-dodging and was sacked by the BBC in 1948.

As an undergraduate at Oxford, Joad became an admirer of George Bernard Shaw; he turned to socialism and was a committed pacifist throughout his life. He was a member of the Fabian Society but was expelled in 1925 due to his philandering (he rejoined in 1943). In 1931, he became Director of Propaganda for the New Party, but soon left the party along with John Strachey when its leader Oswald Mosley turned to fascism. In 1932 he founded with H. G. Wells and others the Federation of Progressive Societies and Individuals.

Joad looked to eastern philosophy as an antidote to western modernity. He attended a number of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s lectures and wrote on his philosophy (Counter Attack from the East, 1933). He also wrote a book on Indian civilization (1936) assisted by Girija Mookerjee, and was a regular contributor to the Anglo-Indian Theosophist periodical Aryan Path. Joad was an admirer of Gandhi, and contributed to a collection of essays (edited by S. Radhakrishnan) on Gandhi to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Mulk Raj Anand, in Conversations in Bloomsbury, records a long talk he had with Joad about God and philosophy. Anand and Joad both attended Professor Dawes Hicks’s seminar at University College London, and it appears that this is how they got to know each other. Joad also met through Anand his fellow student Nikhil Sen and his girlfriend Edna Thomson.

Published works: 

Robert Owen, Idealist, Fabian Tract no. 182 (London: Fabian Society, June 1917)

Essays in Common Sense Philosophy (London: Headley Bros., 1919) 

Common-Sense Ethics (London: Methuen, 1921)

Common-Sense Theology (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1922)

The Highbrows: A Modern Novel (London: Jonathan Cape, 1922)

Priscilla and Charybdis, and Other Stories (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1924) 

Samuel Butler, 1835-1902 (London: Leonard Parsons, 1924) 

Introduction to Modern Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924)

Introduction to Modern Political Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924)   

The Case for the New Party (London: Bird & Sons, 1925)

Mind and Matter: The Philosophical Introduction to Modern Science (London: Nisbet & Co., 1925) 

Thrasymachus: or, the Future of Morals (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1925)

(with John Strachey) After-Dinner Philosophy (London: Routledge & Sons, 1926)

The Babbitt Warren (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1926)

The Bookmark (London: John Westhouse, 1926)

The Mind and its Workings (London: Benn, 1927)

Diogenes, or the Future of Leisure (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1928)

The Future of Life. A Theory of Vitalism (London and New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928)

(with Chapman Cohen) Materialism: Has It Been Exploded? (London: Watts & Co., 1928)

The Meaning of Life (London: Watts & Co., 1928)

Matter, Life and Value (London: Oxford University Press, 1929) 

The Present and Future of Religion (London: Ernest Benn, 1930)

The Horrors of the Countryside (London: Hogarth Press, 1931)

The Story of Civilization (London: A. & C. Black, 1931)

Philosophical Aspects of Modern Science (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1932)

Under the Fifth Rib: A Belligerent Autobiography (London: Faber & Faber, 1932) (reissued as The Book of Joad, London, 1939)

Counter Attack from the East: The Philosophy of Radhakrishnan (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1933)

Guide to Modern Thought (London: Faber & Faber, 1933)

(with Arnold Henry Moore Lunn) Is Christianity True? A Correspondence between Arnold Lunn and C. E. M. Joad (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1933) 

Liberty To-day (London: Watts & Co., 1934)

A Charter for Ramblers (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1934) 

(ed.) Manifesto: Being the Book of the Federation of Progressive Societies and Individuals (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1934)

Return to Philosophy: Being a Defence of Reason, an Affirmation of Values and a Plea for Philosophy (London: Faber & Faber, 1935)

The Future of Morals (London: K. Paul, 1936)

The Dictator Resigns (London: Methuen & Co., 1936)

The Story of Indian Civilisation (London: Macmillan & Co., 1936)

Guide to Philosophy (London: Victor Gollancz, 1936)

The Testament of Joad (London: Faber & Faber, 1937) 

Guide to Modern Wickedness (London: Faber & Faber, 1938)

Guide to the Philosophy of Morals and Politics (London: Victor Gollancz, 1938)

(ed.) How to Write, Think and Speak Correctly (London: Odhams Press, 1939)

Why War? (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1939)

‘The Authority of Detachment and Moral Force’, in Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (ed.) Mahatma Gandhi: Essays and Reflections on his Life and Work, Presented to him on his Seventieth Birthday, October 2nd, 1939 (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1939), pp. 155-61

Journey through the War Mind (London: Faber & Faber, 1940)

Philosophy for Our Times (London: T. Nelson & Sons, 1940)

What is at Stake, and Why Not Say So? (London: Victor Gollancz, 1940)

The Philosophy of Federal Union (London: Macmillan & Co., 1941)

Pieces of Mind (London: Faber & Faber, 1942)

God and Evil (London: Faber & Faber, 1942)

The Adventures of the Young Soldier in Search of a Better World, with drawings by Mervyn Peake (London: Faber & Faber, 1942)

An Old Countryside for New People (London and Letchworth: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1942) 

Philosophy (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1944)

About Education (London: Faber & Faber, 1945)

Opinions (London: Westhouse, 1945)

The Untutored Townsman’s Invasion of the Country (London: Faber & Faber, 1945)

(with Shaw Desmond) Spiritualism (London: Muse Arts, 1946)

More Opinions (London: Westhouse, 1946)

Conditions of Survival (London: Federal Union, 1946)

The Rational Approach to Conscription (London: No Conscription Council, 1947)

Specialisation and the Humanities (London: Birkbeck College, 1947)

Decadence: A Philosophical Inquiry (London: Faber & Faber, 1948)

A Year More or Less (London: Victor Gollancz, 1948)

The Principles of Parliamentary Democracy (London: Falcon Press, 1949)

Shaw (London: Victor Gollancz, 1949) 

A Critique of Logical Positivism (London: Victor Gollancz, 1950)

An Introduction to Contemporary Knowledge (Leeds: E. J. Arnold & Son, 1950)

The Pleasure of Being Oneself (London: George Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1951)

A First Encounter with Philosophy (London: James Blackwood & Co., 1952)

The Recovery of Belief : A Restatement of Christian Philosophy (London: Faber & Faber, 1952) 

(ed.) Shaw and Society: An Anthology and a Symposium (London: Odhams Press, 1953)

Folly Farm (London: Faber & Faber, 1954)


Joad, C. E. M., The Story of Indian Civilisation (London: Macmillan & Co., 1936), pp. viii-x

Date of birth: 
12 Aug 1891

Mulk Raj Anand, W. Arnold-Forster, G. M. Boumphrey, Fenner Brockway, Janet Chance, G. K. Chesterton, Clough William-Ellis, John Carl Flügel, Emma Goldman, M. K. Gandhi, Basil Henry Liddell Hart, Dawes Hicks, Kingsley Martin (friend, pacifist, editor of the New Statesman in 1931), Francis Meynell, Naomi Mitchison, Girija Mookerjee, George Orwell, D. N. Pritt, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Archibald Robertson, Bernard Russell, Nikhil Sen, George Bernard Shaw, John Strachey, W. Olaf Stapledon, Marie Carmichael Stopes, J. W. N. Sullivan, Edna Thomson, Sybil Thorndyke, Allan Young, Rebecca West, H. G. Wells, Julian Huxley, Archibald Bruce Campbell (the BBC 'Brain Trust').

BBC, Federation of Progressive Societies and Individuals.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Spectator (review of Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, 142.5246, 12 January 1929)

Spectator (review of S. Radhakrishnan, Kalki or the Future of Civilisation, 142.5251, 16 February 1929)

Aryan Path (‘What Eastern Religions had to Offer to Western Civilization’, 1.1, 1930)

Spectator (review of Margaret Barton and Osbert Sitwell (eds) Victoriana, 146.5369, 23 May 1931)

Spectator (‘The English, Are they Human?’, 147.5377, 18 July 1931)

Aryan Path (‘The Puzzle of Indian Philosophy’, review of Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, 3.8, 1932)

The London Mercury (‘The Pacifist Case’, review of Bertrand Russell, Which Way to Peace, 35.205, November 1932)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Why Pacifists are Ineffective’, 6.124, 8 July 1933)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Pacifists Escape from Dilemma’, 6.144, 25 November 1933)

Aryan Path (‘The Revival of Hedonism’, 4.11, November 1933)

Contemporary Review (‘The Future and Prospects of Life’, 145, January - June 1934)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Shaw Stories’, review of Bernard Shaw, Short Stories and Shavings, 7.172, 9 June 1934)

Aryan Path, (‘A Western Theory’, 7.8, 1936)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Constructive Pacifism’, 12.285, 8 August 1936)

Aryan Path (‘The Testimony of Indian Philosophy’, review on S. Radhakrishna and J. H. Muirhead (eds) Contemporary Indian Philosophy, 8.2, 1937)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Culture and Philosophy of India’, review of W. H. Morehead and A. C. Chatterjee, A Short History of India, Radhakumud Mookerji; Hindu Civilisation; S. Radhakrishna and J. H. Muirhead (eds) Contemporary Indian Philosophy, 13.307, 9 January 1937)

Aryan Path (‘What is Soul?’, 8.5, May 1937)

Aryan Path (‘Guide to Mysticism’, review of Radhakamal Mukerjee, Theory and Art of Mysticism, 8.11, November 1937)

Aryan Path (‘Religion of the West’, 9.3, March 1938)

Spectator (‘The East Admonishes the West’, 161.5745, 5 August 1938)

Aryan Path (‘Educating and Organizing For Peace: Free Trade and Disarmament’, 10.1, January 1939)

Spectator (review of Wyndham Lewis, The Jews, Are They Human?, 162.5783, 28 April 1939)

Aryan Path (‘Indian Logicians: A Study in Indian and Western Philosophizing’, review of S. C. Chatterjee, The Nyaya Theory of Knowledge, 10.10, October 1939)

Aryan Path (‘The Only Cure: The Renaissance of Mysticism in Western Thought’, 11.6, June 1940)

New Statesman and Nation (‘An Open Letter to H. G. Wells’, 20.495, 17 August 1940)

The Evening Standard (‘The Most Ordinary of Great Men’, 14 August 1946)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Tribute to Shaw’, 40.1028, 18 November 1950)


Jagadisan M. Kumarappa, Aryan Path 4.1, January 1933, pp. 62-3 (Under the Fifth Rib)

J. W. N. Sullivan, Aryan Path 4.2, February 1933, pp. 121-3 (Philosophical Aspects of Modern Science)

K. S. Shelvankar, Aryan Path 4.8, August 1933, pp. 563-4 (Guide to Modern Thought)

J. P. W., Aryan Path 4.12, December 1933, pp. 841-4 (Is Christianity True?)

P. Mahadevan, Aryan Path 10.10, October 1939, pp. 505-6 (Guide to Modern Wickedness)

Aryan Path 11.7, July 1940, pp. 607-8 (Journey Through the War Mind)

K. S. Ramaswami Sastri, Aryan Path 11.12, December 1940, pp. 360-3 (Philosophy for Our Times)

Brailsford, Henry Noel, New Statesman and Nation 46.1182, 31 October 1953, p. 532 (Shaw and Society)


I am in no sense an authority on India. I have never visited the country and have to rely for my view of it upon reading and talk, upon fairly extensive talk, with Indian students visiting England. Thus the book that follows is in the nature less of a scroll continuously unfolding, and revealing as it unfolds, the whole pageant of Indian life and thought, than of a series of historical vignettes. What follows is, therefore, less the story of Indian civilisation, than an account of the reactions produced by that story in a highly interested spectator, a product of the very different civilisation of the West, whose primary purpose in writing has been to make clear to himself what it is that India has or has had which marks off her civilisation from that of all other peoples, and how much of this ‘something’, which romantic writers call ‘the spirit of India’, may safely adopt without danger to her ‘spirit’ or to what still remains to her of it.

Such information as this book contains, such authority as it possesses, are due to Girija Mookerjee but for whose collaboration it could not have been written.

Secondary works: 

Thomas, Geoffrey, Cyril Joad (London: Birkbeck College, 1992)

Martin, Kingsley, ‘Cyril Joad’, New Statesman and Nation 45.1154 (18 April 1953), pp. 446-7


The extract gives an interesting insight into Joad’s views of India, and his relationship with the Indian students whom he met in London.

Archive source: 

Joad’s correspondence with Sir Arnold Lunn, The Sir Arnold Lunn Papers, Lauinger Library Special Collection, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Correspondence between Joad and Liddell Hart, Papers of Capt Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, ref: GB99 KCLMA Liddell Hart, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King’s College, London

Senate House Library, University of London

Joad’s correspondence with New Statesman magazine, Sussex University Library Special Collections

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad

Date of death: 
09 Apr 1953
Location of death: 

Balliol College, University of Oxford; Birkbeck College, University of London.

Maud MacCarthy


MacCarthy was a talented violinist who had trained at the Royal College of Music and toured with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. From an early age, MacCarthy claimed to experience mystical visions and she maintained an interest in esoteric spirituality throughout her life. In 1905, she accompanied the soon-to-be president of the Theosophical Society, Annie Besant, on a visit to India where MacCarthy was deeply influenced not only by the religious practices of South Asia, but also its music.

This is an interest she further developed with her second husband, the composer John Foulds, whom she married in 1915. They collaborated on his World Requiem and MacCarthy wrote and spoke about Indian music in the UK. She also had an interest in the visual arts and was a founder member of the Theosophical Arts Circle (1907-14) and wrote for their journal, Orpheus. Foulds and MacCarthy met a young man, referred to only as 'The Boy' in her writings, who was employed in a gas works in the East End of London. According to MacCarthy, 'The Boy' possessed great spiritual powers and could channel an initiated spiritual group known as 'The Brothers'. In 1935, MacCarthy, Foulds and 'The Boy' moved to India where they established an ashram to promulgate these spiritual teachings. After Foulds death, MacCarthy took the name Swami Omananda Puri.

Published works: 

Some Indian Conceptions of Music (London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1913)

The Temple of Labour: Four Lectures of the Plan Beautiful in relation to Modern Industrialism (London: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1926)

The Boy and the Brothers by Swami Omananda Puri (London: Victor Gollancz, 1959)


McCarthy, Maud, ‘Music in East and West’, Transactions of the Theosophical Art-Circle 3 (1907), p. 10.

Date of birth: 
04 Jul 1882

Annie Besant, John Foulds.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Transactions of the Theosophical Art-Circle (‘Music in East and West’, 3 (1907), pp. 10-11; ‘International Arts’, 4 (1908), pp. 18-22)

Theosophist (‘True Art: Letter to a Young Painter (Benares, May 1908)’, 30 (1908), pp. 203-6)

Proceedings of the Musical Association (‘Some Conceptions of Indian Music’, 38 (1911-12), pp. 41-65)

Vâhan (‘The Brotherhood of the Arts’, 23.8 (March 1914), p. 159)


People speak vaguely of the genius of East or West, as though there existed a fixed impassable gulf between the two. Is it not rather true that genius of an identical nature all the world over - or of identical types, as political, scientific, or artistic - although [in] widely different circumstances, and national or religious prejudices, may for the time being veil these identities? Is it not likely that, could we pierce these veils, we might in freeing genius of its shackles discover the purely human - the international - type beneath?

Secondary works: 

Mansell, James, 'Music and the Borders of Rationality: Discourses of Place in the Work of John Foulds' in Grace Brockington (ed.) Internationalism and the Arts in Britain and Europe at the Fin de Siècle (Bern: Peter Lang, 2009)

Turner, Sarah Victoria '“Spiritual Rhythm” and “Material Things”: Art, Cultural Networks and Modernity in Britain, c.1900-1914', unpublished PhD thesis (University of London, 2009)

City of birth: 
Clonmel, County Tipperary
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Maud Mann

Swami Omananda Puri

Date of death: 
02 Jun 1967
Tags for Making Britain: 

Alice Richardson


Alice Richardson met Ananda Coomaraswamy around 1910, most probably at a recital of folk songs given by pupils of the collector of folk songs and cultural revivalist, Cecil Sharp. Richardson accompanied Coomaraswamy on a trip to India in 1911 and became his second wife. They lived on a houseboat in Srinagar, Kashmir, whilst she studied Indian music with Abdul Rahim of Kapurthala, and Coomaraswamy researched Rajput painting of northern India.

Once back in London, Alice Coomaraswamy became noted for her recitals of Indian music which were often introduced by an explanatory lecture given by her husband. She performed widely in the UK (including at the Theosophical Society Summer Schools) under the name Ratan Devi and in Indian dress. When the Coomaraswamys first went to the US, it was for her concert tour. Alice had two children (a boy, Narada, and a girl, Rohini) by Coomaraswamy before their divorce and his subsequent marriage to the American dancer and artist, Stella Bloch.

Published works: 

Thirty Songs From the Panjab and Kashmir, Recorded by Ratan Devi with Introduction and Translations by Ananda K. Coomarswamy and a Foreword by Rabindranath Tagore (Old Bourne Press, 1913)


Tagore, Rabindranath, 'Foreword', in Thirty Songs From the Panjab and Kashmir: Recorded by Ratan Devi with Introduction and Translations by Ananda K. Coomarswamy (Old Bourne Press, 1913), pp. vi-ii


Rabindranath Tagore describes his experience of hearing Ratan Devi sing.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Modern Review (October 1911)


Asiatic Review

New York Times


Sometimes the meaning of a poem is better understood in a translation, not necessarily because it is more beautiful than the original, but as in the new setting the poem has to undergo a trial, it shines more brilliantly if it comes out triumphant. So it seemed to me that Ratan Devi’s singing our songs gained something in feeling and truth. Listening to her I felt more clearly than ever that our music is the music of cosmic emotion...Ratan Devi sang an alap in Kandra, and I forgot for a moment that I was in a London drawing-room. My mind got itself transported in the magnificence of an eastern night, with its darkness, transparent, yet unfathomable, like the eyes of an Indian maiden, and I seemed to be standing alone in the depth of its stillness and stars.

Secondary works: 

Clayton, Martin, and Zon, Bennett, Music and Orientalism in the British Empire, 1780s-1940s: Portrayal of the East (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007)

Crowley, Aleister, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, ed. by John Symonds and Kenneth Grant (London: Jonathan Cape, 1969)

Lipsey, Roger, Coomaraswamy, 3 vols, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977)

Archive source: 

Stella Bloch Papers, Princeton University Library, Princeton

Other names: 

Ratan Devi

Alice Coomaraswamy

George Russell (AE)


A chance reading of the Upanishads in the mid 1880s, and a friendship with Charles Johnston from 1885, led Russell to a study of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita. Russell was drawn into Theosophical circles through Johnston and W. B. Yeats. In 1885, he met Mohini Chatterjee in Dublin and was greatly impressed by him. This acquaintance encouraged Russell to pursue his study of Indian philosophy and literature further. In 1890, Russell gave up Art School, formally joined the Theosophical Society and dedicated the next seven years to pursuing 'the path of mysticism'. Russell spent a lot of time in meditation and became interested in yoga. Hindu and Buddhist philosophy became an influence on his poetry and artistic works, although he was also inspired by visions and his 'natural mysticism'.

Russell was known for his thorough knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita and this led to interactions with South Asian visitors to the UK, as did his friendship with Yeats. When Purohit Swami arrived in the UK in 1930, he came bearing a letter of introduction to Russell written by E. E. Speight. In Yeats's introduction to the translation of The Ten Principal Upanishads by Yeats and Purohit Swami (1937), he drew attention to the influence of Russell on him. Yeats told how Russell had been quoting the Upanishads for the 'last forty years'. Russell also had connections with Rabindranath Tagore and Ranjee G. Shahani. Shahani remarks in a letter to Tagore in 1934 that AE had often spoken of Tagore to him. In 1931, Russell was invited to meet Mahatma Gandhi in London, whose theory of non-violence had been advocated by Russell in The Interpreters, but was unable to meet him as his wife fell ill.

Published works: 

Works include (in chronological order): 

The Earth Breath and Other Poems (1897)

The Divine Vision and Other Poems (1904)

Imaginations and Reveries (1915)

The Candle of Vision (1918)

The Interpreters (1922)

Song and its Fountains (1932)

The Living Torch (1937)

Date of birth: 
10 Apr 1867
Secondary works: 

Kuch, Peter R., ‘Russell, George William (1867–1935)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004)[]

Kuch, Peter, Yeats and A.E. 'The antagonism that unites dear friends' (Gerards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1986)

Lennon, Joseph, Irish Orientalism (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2004)

Summerfield, Henry, That Myriad-Minded Man: A Biography of George William Russell "AE" 1867-1935 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1975)

Archive source: 

Correspondence files in Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington

Papers, Armagh County Museum, Northern Ireland

Papers, National Library of Ireland, Dublin

Some Correspondence Files, Manuscript Collection, British Library, St Pancras


City of birth: 
Lurgan, Ulster
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Northern Ireland
Other names: 


George William Russell

Date of death: 
17 Jul 1935

George Arundale


George Arundale was a Theosophist. He was tutored by Charles Leadbeater and went to St John's College, Cambridge in 1895. In 1902, he moved to Benares and became principal of the Central Hindu College. Arundale became involved with the All-India Home Rule League and was imprisoned, with Annie Besant, in 1917, under the Defence of India Act, 1917.

In 1920, he married a Brahmin girl, Rukmini Devi, which caused some controversy in India. In 1926, he became Regionary Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church in India. In 1934, he became President of the Theosophical Society. He edited the Theosophist. He died in 1945 in Adyar at the Theosophist headquarters.

Published works: 

Various works on theosophy include:

Bedrock of Education (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1924)

Thoughts of the Great (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1924)

You (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1935)

Gods in the Becoming (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1936)

Education for Happiness (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1938)

Adventures in Theosophy (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1941)

Date of birth: 
01 Dec 1878
Secondary works: 

Dixon, Joy, Divine Feminine: Theosophy and Feminism in England (London: John Hopins, 2001)

Lutyens, Mary, Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening (London: John Murray, 1975)

Lutyens, Mary, The Life and Death of Krishnamurti (London: John Murray, 1990)

Meduri, Avanthi (ed.), Rukmini Devi Arundale (1904-1968): A Visionary Architect of Indian culture and the Performing Arts (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2005)

Archive source: 

Theosophical Archives, Adyar, India

City of birth: 
Wonersh, Surrey
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

George Sydney Arundale

Date of death: 
12 Aug 1945
Location of death: 
Adyar, India
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H. P. Blavatsky


H. P. Blavatsky was the founder of the Theosophical Society in 1875.

Published works: 

Isis Unveiled (New York: Bouton, 1877)

The Secret Doctrine (Theosophical Publishing House, 1893)

The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett and other Miscellaneous Letters. Transcribed, compiled and with an introduction by A. T. Barker (London T. Fisher Unwin, 1925)
Date of birth: 
31 Jul 1831

Annie Besant, Charles Webster Leadbeater, A. P. Sinnett, W. B. Yeats.

Contributions to periodicals: 


Secondary works: 

There are many books on Blavatsky and Theosophy. Below is a very small selection:

Bechhofer Roberts, C. E. (“Ephesian”), The Mysterious Madame: A Life of Madame Blavatsky (London: John Lane The Bodley Head, 1931)

Besant, Annie, H. P. Blavatksy and the Masters of Wisdom (London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1907)

Cranston, Sylvia, HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky (New York: Putnam, 2003)

Davenport-Hines, Richard, ‘Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna (1831–1891)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Fuller, Jean Overton, Blavatsky and her Teachers (Adyar: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988)

Sinnett, A. P., The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1922)

Archive source: 

Theosophical Society Archives, Adyar, Madras

Letters to A. P. Sinnett, British Library Manuscript Collection, St Pancras

Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Madame Blavatsky

Date of death: 
08 May 1891
Location of death: 
London, England
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Charles W. Leadbeater


Charles W. Leadbeater was a former Anglican clergyman and a prominent member of the Theosophical Society, which he joined in 1883. In 1889, during his travels to India, he found Currupumullage Jinarajadasa, who he believed to be the reincarnation of his deceased younger brother. Leadbeater brought Jinarajadasa to England where he tutored him before Jinarajadasa gained admission into the University of Cambridge.

In 1910, Leadbeater 'discovered' Jiddu Krishnamurti in Adyar. Leadbeater believed that Krishnamurti was the reincarnation of the World Teacher/Messiah and drew him to the attention of Annie Besant, who took Krishnamurti and his brother under her wing. Before this, in 1906, Leadbeater had been charged with 'perversion' against young boys and had resigned from the Theosophical Society. The charges were never proved and when Annie Besant became President of the Society in 1907, she reinstated Leadbeater. Krishnamurti's father underwent a protracted custody battle against Besant and Leadbeater over the two boys, but eventually the Theosophists were able to assume total guardianship over the boys.

Leadbeater can be described as an observant traveller on the astral plane and wrote many books recounting his experiences. He and Besant collaborated to produce Occult Chemistry in which they used clairvoyance to examine atoms.

Published works: 

The Astral Plane (London: The Theosophical Society, 1895)

An Outline of Theosophy (London: The Theosophical Society, 1902)

Occult Chemistry (London: Theosophical Society, 1908)

The Inner Life (Adyar: Theosophical Society, 1910)

The Chakras (Illinois: Theosophical Society, 1927)

How Theosophy Came to Me (Adyar: Theosophical Society, 1930)

Date of birth: 
16 Feb 1854
Secondary works: 

Lutyens, Mary, Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening (New York: Avon, 1983)

Sinnett, A. P., The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe (London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1922)

Tillett, Gregory, The Elder Brother: A Biography of Charles Webster Leadbeater (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982)

Archive source: 

Theosophical Society Archives, Adyar, India

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Charles Webster Leadbeater

Date of death: 
01 Mar 1934
Location of death: 
Perth, Australia
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