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 Annie Besant (1847 - 1933)
British theosophist and nationalist leader in India, born in London, and privately educated. She early became interested in socialist and free thought movements, and wrote pamphlets defending them. She became closely associated with the British social reformer Charles Bradlaugh and later with the Fabians.

She and Bradlaugh republished an old pamphlet, The Fruits of Philosophy, which advocated birth control. For this, they were brought to trial on a charge of obscenity. In 1889 she joined the Theosophical Society, serving as a president from 1907 until her death.
Shortly after joining the society Besant went to India, where she later became a leader of a Hindu nationalist movement. She founded Central Hindu College at Varanasi (1898) and organized the Indian Home Rule League, becoming president in 1916.

She was elected president of the Indian National Congress in 1917 and general secretary of the National Convention of India in 1923. She lectured frequently on theosophy and in 1926 traveled widely with her Indian protégé Jiddu Krishnamurti, whom she declared to be the new Messiah. Her works include Reincarnation (1892), The Basis of Morality (1915), A World Religion (1916), and India, Bond or Free? (1926).
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