Alexandra David-Néel

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Portrait in her youth

Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969) was a French explorer and writer, known particularly for her writings about Tibetan Buddhism. In 1892 she became a member of the Theosophical Society.

Early years

Louise Eugénie Alexandrine Marie David was born in Saint-Mandé, a suburb of Paris, on October 24, 1868.

Theosophical Society connections

In her early twenties she was introduced to Madame Blavatsky, whose esoteric ideas had a significant influence on Alexandra.[1] She formed a close allegiance with Annie Besant and joined the European Section of the Theosophical Society in London on June 7, 1892.[2] In 1893 she went to the Theosophical Society's Adyar headquarters and spent much of the year there studying Sanskrit.[3]

In a 1941 letter to Theosophical Society President George S. Arundale, David-Neel sent "Greetings from Tibet":


When, in 1893, after having joined the T.S. I stayed at Avenue Road, London, I often heard my friends there say that to become a member of the T.S. is to bind oneself with a tie that is never broken. I think there is some truth in this opinion. Since then, events have brought me again and again in close relation with the T.S. I have made long stays in Adyar and in Benares and keep the best remembrance of my pleasant rooms in Blavatsky Gardens (Adyar), and in the European Quarters (Benares), and the happy days I spent there. Then when re-turning to France from Lhasa, I have had two books published by the “Edition Adyar” in Paris, and lectured several times at Square Rapp.

Now I am again in Eastern Tibet (Kham Province, under Chinese control). There, after having fully experienced in China, the horrors of the war, I think of the many members of the T.S. who are suffering on account of the European war, and I would like to send them, at the beginning of this year, my best wishes for their safety and welfare.

I would feel much obliged: if you would kindly convey these good wishes to those members of the T.S. with whom you are in touch and accept the same for yourself.

Yours sincerely,
12 January 1941[4]

Traveling in Lhasa in 1924.



Mme. David-Neel wrote at least 30 books, many published in both French and English simultaneously.


Additional resources

Additional reading

  • Earle Rice, Jr., Alexandra David-Neel: Explorer at the Roof of the World, (USA: Chelsea House Publishers, 2004)


  1. Occult - A Mystic in Tibet - Alexandra David-Neel at
  2. David-Neel, Alexandra (1868-1969) at Theosophy Forward
  3. David-Néel, Alexandra at Astro Databank
  4. Alexandra David-Neel, "Greetings from Tibet," The Theosophist 62.4 (April, 1941), 14.