Beatrice Wood

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Beatrice Wood was an American ceramicist and writer who was influential in the Avant Garde movement. She was a life member of the Theosophical Society in America. A photo essay of her life appears on the Website of the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts.

Early life

Artistic career

Theosophical Society involvement

Miss Wood served as a member of the selection committee for the Olcott Foundation Awards.

Young Dora van Gelder spent time in the homes of the Sellon family, Beatrice Wood, and Robert and Sara Logan early in 1927 in New York and New Jersey, before marrying Fritz Kunz on May 16th.

For a time Beatrice Wood lived in the Old Hollywood neighborhood in which the Krotona Theosophical colony had been prominent during 1911-1920. Her next-door neighbors were L. W. Rogers, his wife Maysie, and sons Stanley and Grayson, who lived at 2033 N. Argyle Avenue.[1]

Jiddu Krishnamurti was a friend of Miss Wood, and influenced her work.[2]

Two years before her death, Miss Wood was recognized at the annual convention as "the seniormost Fellow of the Theosophical Society in America in years of age in this incarnation." She was then 103 years old. In a series of resolutions, the artist was acclaimed a "one of our most faithful members" and "a world-famous ceramicist, artist, chocolate connoisseur, and inspirer of young men, as well as a greatly admired, honored, and loved member of the Theosphical Society who throughout her life has exemplified high ideals of art and living."[3]

Plays on Theosophical subjects

Miss Wood also wrote plays that she intended to be performed by Theosophical Society lodges. In 1931 The Theosophical Messenger reported:

"Beatrice Wood sends word that she has just completed a one-act play dealing with life after death that is suitable for Lodge production. It has four characters and is not difficult to set. She will be glad to send it to any Lodge interested. Perhaps this play would be valuable as a means of spreading theosophical truth.[4]

The following year,

The Theosophical Press will undertake the publication of two Theosophical plays by Beatrice Wood, The Door That Did Not Close and Corridor E, if a sufficient number of orders are guaranteed in advance. The Door That Did Not Close has already been produced with genuine success by several lodges and the second new play comes highly recommended.[5]


I Shock Myself: The Autobiography of Beatrice Wood was published in 1985 by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.

The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists 22 articles written by Beatrice Wood and four about her.


The Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts is located in Ojai, California.

The center has hosted such Theosophical events as a 3-day workshop with lectures by Richard Flores and Kevin Wallace on April 12-14, 2013:

This three-day workshop is based upon Thought Forms, the 1901 book by Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater that inspired Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee and countless other artists. Participants will explore the ideas that pre-date and inspired abstract painting through insights into the processes of seeing and recording impressions in form and color.[6]

Additional resources

Archival records

  • Beatrice Wood papers, 1894-1998, bulk 1930-1990 at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institute. Includes diaries; oral histories; art works and glaze books; correspondence; personal business records; photographs; and writings, such as drafts of her plays.


  • Clark, Garth. Gilded Vessel: The Lustrous Life and Art of Beatrice Wood. Guild Publishing, 2001.
  • Wallace, Marlene. Playing Chess With the Heart: Beatrice Wood at 100. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994.



  1. 1930 U. S. Census.
  2. "The Life of Jiddu Krishnamurti" in KatinkaHesselink website.
  3. "Convention Resolutions," The American Theosophist 84.6 (Early Autumn, 1996), 10.
  4. "A New Play," The Theosophical Messenger 19.3 (March 1931), 338.
  5. "Occult Plays," The Theosophical Messenger 20.9 (September 1932), 208.
  6. "Thought Forms," Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts at Beatrice Wood Center website. Accessed January 13, 2016. See also Biennial website.