Isabel Cooper-Oakley

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Isabel Cooper-Oakley, around 1893, Sydney, Australia

Isabel Cooper-Oakley (1854-1914) was an English Theosophist who went to India with her husband A. J. Cooper-Oakley and H. P. Blavatsky in 1884. She returned to England the next year while her husband stayed on in India.[1] She was a member of HPB's Inner Group in London. In 1893 she spoke at the World's Parliament of Religions; she also visited Sydney, Australia that year.

Henry Steel Olcott wrote to Francesca Arundale that "Mrs. Oakley has made the greatest hit among them all, and is vastly popular already" following her lectures at the 1884 annual convention at the Adyar headquarters of the Theosophical Society. He further reported that the Oakleys had been appointed to a Central Committee formed "to receive and digest further Esoteric Teachings, and transmit it to the Inner Group of Branches."[2]

C. Jinarājadāsa, who knew her well, wrote:

Mrs. Cooper-Oakley... became a chela...

She was utterly devoted to H.P.B. But she was constantly worried by want [lack] of health,and required much attention. When she reached India, she found that her health suffered more than she expected, and she was forced to return to England. In spite of various and continued handicaps to health, Mrs. Cooper-Oakley toiled day after day to the end of her life to serve the Masters and the Theosophical Society. In her devotion to them and H.P.B she was flawless. But neither she nor her husband could be called upon for strenuous service.[3]

Later years and death

Annie Besant wrote of her in 1914:

I must mention the passing away of one worker whom you will all remember by name, and many by personal knowledge, my dear friend Mrs. Cooper-Oakley. She was suffering under consumption while she was here, two years ago. She would go back in the last bitter winter to Hungary, and that has killed the body, and left Hungary without its best worker.[4]

Professor O. Penzig, General Secretary of the Italian Section, wrote:

Our Society has to record the sad loss it sustained during the year by the death of Mrs. Isabel Cooper-Oakley, to whom so much was owed by the Italian Section for its constitution and organisation at its inception, and during the first active years of its existence. Her memory will always live in the hearts of all members in this country with lasting gratitude.[5]


Mrs. Cooper-Oakley was a proficient writer. She contributed at least 71 articles to Theosophical journals, according to the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals, and was mentioned in dozens more, including reviews of her many books:

  • Count of Saint-Germain.
  • The Count of St. Germain: Mystic and Philosopher.
  • Masonry and Medieval Mysticism: Traces of a Hidden Tradition.
  • The Troubadours and Freemasonry.
  • The Tradition of the Knights Templar Received in Masonry.
  • Towards the Hidden Sources of Masonry.
  • An Introduction to Masonry and Mysticism.
  • Freemasonry and the Heavenly Kingdom of the Holy Grail.
  • The Count of Saint-Germain and Tragical Prophecies.
  • Masonic Tradition and the Count of Saint-Germain.
  • Secret Writings and Ciphers.
  • The Count of Saint-Germain and His Political Work.
  • Mystical Traditions.
  • Studies in the "Secret Doctrine".
  • The Mystical Traditions and Masonry and Medieval Mysticism.
  • Samkhya and Yoga Philosophy.


  1. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 224.
  2. H. S. Olcott to Francesca Arundale, December 31, 1881. Published in "Letters of H. S. Olcott to Francesca Arundale," The Theosophist 53.12 (September, 1932), 727-728.
  3. C. Jinarājadāsa, The "K. H." Letters to C. W. Leadbeater (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1941), 58-59.
  4. Annie Besant, "Presidential Address," The General Report of the T. S. 1914 (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1915), 10.
  5. O. Penzig, "Report of the T. S. in Italy," The General Report of the T. S. 1915 (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1916), 47.

Additional resources