Francis Younghusband


Francis Younghusband was a member of the British Indian Army. He was an explorer of the Gobi Desert and Manchuria. In 1903, Younghusband led a mission to Tibet. In 1906, he became British Resident in Kashmir.

Younghusband returned to Britain in 1909 and became involved and interested in religious/spiritual matters. He was a member of the India Society and became friends with many Indians in Britain. In 1933 he attended the Second Parliament of Religions in Chicago. He then became involved in the organization and leadership of the World Fellowship of Faith's congress in London, to be held in 1936. Subsequent congresses were held in places such as Oxford in 1937, Cambridge in 1938, Paris in 1939, in which Younghusband continued to take a leading role.

Younghusband wrote twenty-six books between 1895 and 1942 on topics ranging from exploration and mountaineering to philosophy and politics.

Published works: 

India and Tibet (London: John Murray, 1910)

The Gleam: The Religious Experiences of an Indian, here called Nija Svabhava (London: John Murray, 1923)

Life in the Stars (London: John Murray, 1927)

The Coming Country: A Pre-vision (London: John Murray, 1928) 

Dawn in India (London: John Murray, 1931)

Modern Mystics (London: John Murray, 1935)

'Foreword', in Douglas A. Millard (ed.), Faiths and Fellowship: Proceedings of the World Congress of Faiths held in London,  (London: J. M. Watkins, 1936)

Date of birth: 
31 May 1863
Secondary works: 

Braybrooke, Marcus, A Wider Vision: A History of the World Congress of Faiths, 1936-1996 (Oxford: One World, 1996)

French, Philip, Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer (London: HarperCollins, 1994)

Archive source: 

Manuscripts, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to Shri Purohit Swami, Nehru Memorial Library, Delhi

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Muree, North-West Frontier
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Sir Francis Younghusband

Sir Francis Edward Younghusband

Date of death: 
31 Jul 1942
Location of death: 
Dorset, England
Tags for Making Britain: 

World Congress of Faiths

03 Jul 1936
End date: 
18 Jul 1936
Event location: 

University College, London


The World Congress of Faiths was a descendent of the Parliament of Religions Congress held in 1893 in Chicago (attended by Swami Vivekananda). A Second Parliament of Religions was held in 1933 in Chicago, organized by Kedar Nath Das Gupta and Charles Weller. Francis Younghusband attended this Congress and through discussions the idea arose to have a Congress in London in 1936.

A number of international speakers were invited to the Congress, which sought to discuss spiritual matters. The committee for the Congress was headed by the international president, the Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda, but the British National Chairman was Sir Francis Younghusband. After the success of the Congress, the World Fellowship of Faiths based in the UK decided to break away from the American parent organization and ran annual congresses such as in Oxford in 1937, Cambridge in 1938, and Paris in 1939.

Published works: 

Millard, A. Douglas (ed.), Faiths and Fellowship: Proceedings of the World Congress of Faiths held in London, foreword by Sir Francis Younghusband (London: J. M. Watkins, 1936)


Reportage in newspapers such as The Times

Secondary works: 

Braybrooke, Marcus, A Wider Vision: A History of the World Congress of Faiths 1936-1996 (Oxford: One World, 1996)

Archive source: 

Sir Francis Younghusband papers, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

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) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/40930]

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
Tags for Making Britain: 

William Butler Yeats


W. B. Yeats was a prolific and prominent Anglo-Irish poet and literary figure.

At various stages of his life, Yeats was influenced by and influenced Indians. As a young adult, Yeats was drawn to Theosophy and met Mohini Chatterjee when he visited Dublin in 1885. After this meeting, Yeats wrote three poems (published in 1889) that refered to India: ‘The Indian to his Love’, ‘The Indian upon God’, and ‘Anushuya and Vijaya’. Yeats was further influenced by his reading of the great fourth century Indian poet and dramatist, Kalidasa. Yeats later wrote a poem entitled 'Mohini Chatterjee' (published in 1933 in the collection The Winding Stair and Other Poems).

In 1912, William Rothenstein wrote to Yeats about the need for an introduction for Tagore's Gitanjali which was to be published by the India Society. Yeats sent his introduction to Gitanjali from Dublin. Yeats was instrumental in having a performance of Tagore’s play, The Post Office, performed at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in October 1913. As he was so prominent in literary circles, Yeats was also linked to other Indian poets such as Sarojini Naidu and Manmohan Ghose, and encouraged a young Indian student at Oxford, G. K. Chettur, to publish his poems in 1922 (for which Chettur dedicated the anthology to Yeats).

Later in life (in the 1930s), Yeats became friends with Purohit Swami. Yeats wrote an introduction to Purohit Swami's book about his Master, Shri Bhagwan Hamsa. They translated the Upanishads together in Majorca in 1935-6. Yeats introduced Purohit Swami to his friend the stage actress Margot Ruddock, who became a disciple of the Swami's.

Despite his many connections, Yeats did not manage to visit India in his lifetime.

Published works: 

The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (London: Kegan Paul, 1889)

'The Way of Wisdom', The Speaker (14 April 1900), pp.40-1

Introduction to Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali (London: India Society, 1912)

Preface to Rabindranath Tagore, The Post Office (London: Macmillan, 1914)

Introduction to Shri Purohit Swami, An Indian Monk (London, Macmillan, 1932)

The Winding Stair and Other Poems (London: Macmillan, 1933)

Introduction to Bhagwan Shri Hamsa, The Holy Mountain (London: Faber & Faber, 1934), translated by Shri Purohit Swami

Shri Purohit Swami and W. B. Yeats, The Ten Principal Upanishads (London: Faber & Faber, 1937)

Autobiographies (London: Macmillan, 1955)

Date of birth: 
13 Jun 1865
Secondary works: 

Bachchan, Harbans Rai, W. B. Yeats and Occultism: A Study of his works in relation to Indian lore, the Cabbala, Swedenborg, Boehme and Theosophy (London: Books from India Ltd, 1976)

Boehmer, Elleke, Empire, the National and the Postcolonial, 1890-1920: Resistance in Interaction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)

Bridge, Ursula (ed.), W. B. Yeats and T. Sturge Moore: Their Correspondence, 1901-1937 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953)

Chettur, G. K., Sounds and Images (London: Erskine Macdonald, 1922)

Chettur, G. K., The Last Enchantment: Recollections of Oxford (Mangalore: Mangalore Press, 1934)

Dasgupta, R. K., Rabindranath Tagore and William Butler Yeats: The Story of a Literary Friendship (Delhi: University of Delhi, 1965)

Devy, Ganesh N., 'The Indian Yeats', in Toshi Furomoto et al (eds) International Aspects of Irish Literature (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1996), pp.93-106. 

Dutta, Krishna and Robinson, Andrew (eds), Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Finneran, R. J., Harper, G. M., and Murphy, W. H. (eds), Letters to W. B. Yeats, 2 vols (London: Macmillan, 1977)

Harwood, John, Olivia Shakespear and W. B. Yeats. After Long Silence: 1923-1938 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989)

Lago, Mary, 'The Parting of the Ways: a Comparative Study of Yeats and Tagore', India Literature 6.2 (1963)

Lennon, Joseph, Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2004)

McHugh, Roger (ed.), Ah Sweet Dancer: W. B Yeats - Margot Ruddock (London: Macmillan, 1970)

Mokashi-Punekar, Shankar, The Later Phase in the Development of W. B. Yeats: A Study in the Stream of Yeats' Later Thought and Creativity (Dharwar: Karnatak University, 1966)

Pitt, Mair, The Maya-Yogi and the Mask: A Study of Rabindranath Tagore and W. B. Yeats (Salzburg: University of Salzburg, 1997)

Rothenstein, William, and Lago, Mary McClelland, Imperfect Encounter: Letters of William Rothenstein and Rabindranath Tagore, 1911-1914, ed., introduction and notes by Mary McClelland Lago (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972)

Williams, Louise Blakeney, 'Overcoming the Contagion of Mimicry: The Cosmopolitan Nationalism and Modernist History of Rabindranath Tagore and W. B. Yeats', The American Historical Review 112.1 (2007), pp. 69-100

Archive source: 

Houghton Library, Harvard University, Boston

John J. Burns Library, Boston College, Boston

National Library of Ireland, Dublin

Correspondence with Rabindranath Tagore, Visva-Bharati Archives, Santiniketan

Correspondence with Purohit Swami, University of Delaware

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

W. B. Yeats

Date of death: 
28 Jan 1939
Location of death: 
Roquebrune, France
Tags for Making Britain: 

Purohit Swami


Purohit Swami was a poet, philosopher and Hindu monk. He came to Britain in 1931 and struck up friendships with various British literary figures. As a disciple of Shri Bhagwan Hamsa, Purohit Swami gave a series of lectures on the Bhagvad Gita at the 'Fellowship Club', and became involved with British 'spiritualists' who were interested in helping him set up an ashram in London.

Having been introduced to Thomas Sturge Moore, Purohit Swami was busy writing an autobiography, a biography of Shri Bhagwan Hamsa and his own poems in Britain. Moore introduced the Purohit to William Butler Yeats and from there formed a strong friendship and literary relationship. Yeats wrote the introductions for Purohit Swami's works. They then decided to work together on a translation of the Upanishads for which they went to Majorca in 1935. Purohit Swami was beset by ill-health during the latter part of his time in Britain and after his time in Majorca sailed directly back to India.

Purohit Swami was involved in various scandals during his time in Britain. He fell out with Thomas Sturge Moore because Moore felt he was not properly acknowledged for his help in editing Purohit Swami's autobiography and felt that he had been paid off by the Purohit. Rumours also circulated about Purohit Swami's relationship with a Gwyneth Foden who lived close by in Lancaster Gate and falsely gave the impression that she would finance his ashram.

Published works: 

An Indian Monk,  introduction by W. B. Yeats (London, Macmillan, 1932)

Bhagwan Shri Hamsa, The Holy Mountain, trans. by Shri Purohit Swami, introduction by W. B. Yeats (London: Faber & Faber, 1934)

The Geeta, trans. by Shri Purohit Swami, preface by Sayaji Rao Gaekwar (London: Faber & Faber, 1935)

(with W. B. Yeats) The Ten Principal Upanishads (London: Faber & Faber, 1937)

Bhagwan Shree Patanjali, Aphorisms of Yoga, trans. by Shri Purohit Swami, introduction by W. B. Yeats (London: Faber & Faber, 1938)

The Songs of Silence (Delhi: Rupa, 2003) [first published in Poona in 1931]

Date of birth: 
12 Oct 1882

Leonard S. Bristowe, Margot Collis, Richard de la Mare, Walter de la Mare, T. S. Eliot, Gwyneth Foden, John Masefield, Thomas Sturge Moore, Elizabeth Pelham, Dorothy Pound, Omar Pound, Josephine Ransom, Olivia Shakespear, William Butler Yeats, Francis Younghusband.

Secondary works: 

Bridge, Ursula (ed.), W. B. Yeats and T. Sturge Moore: Their Correspondence, 1901-1937 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953) 

Finneran, R. J., Harper, G. M., and Murphy, W. M. (eds), Letters to W. B. Yeats, Vol. 2 (London: Macmillan, 1977)

Harwood, John (ed.), 'Olivia Shakespear: Letters to W. B. Yeats', in Warwick Gould (ed) Yeats Annual,  No. 6 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1988)

Harwood, John, Olivia Shakespear and W. B. Yeats. After Long Silence: 1923-38 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1989) 

McHugh, Roger (ed.), Ah Sweet Dancer: W. B. Yeats - Margot Ruddock (London: Macmillan, 1970)

Mokashi-Punekar, Shankar (ed.), Avadhoota Gita, trans. by Shri Purohit Swami (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1979)

Mokashi-Punekar, Shankar, The Later Phase in the Development of W. B. Yeats (A Study in the Stream of Yeat’s Later Thought and Creativity) (Dharwar: Karnatak University, 1966)

Sena, Vinod, 'The Life and Works oF Shri Purohit Swami' in Shri Purohi Swami, The Autobiography of an Indian Monk (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1992)

Archive source: 

Letters and papers, Nehru Memorial Library, New Delhi

Letters from Yeats, Yeats Collection, University of Delaware

Letters to Yeats, Yeats Collection, Stony Brook University

Correspondence with Thomas Sturge Moore, Add Ms 45732, British Library Manuscript Collection, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Badnera, Central Provinces
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Shri Purohit Swami


Lancaster Terrace, London
7 Lancaster Terrace
London, W2 3PA
United Kingdom
51° 30' 44.2008" N, 0° 10' 33.1176" W
Fellowship Club
51 Lancaster Gate
London, W2 3LX
United Kingdom
51° 30' 42.4764" N, 0° 10' 50.1276" W
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1940
Precise date of death unknown: 
Location of death: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
28 Feb 1931
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

28 February 1931 - 29 November 1935

Tags for Making Britain: 
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