Isabel Cooper-Oakley

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Isabel Cooper-Oakley, around 1893, Sydney, Australia

Isabel Cooper-Oakley (1854-1914) was an English Theosophist and friend of H. P. Blavatsky.

Early years

Harriett Isabella Cooper was born on January 31, 1854 in Amritsas, Punjab, India as the daughter of Frederick Henry Cooper, C.B, I.C.S. Laura Mary Cooper, later the wife of G. R. S. Mead, was her sister.

At age 29, she was married to Alfred John Oakley (1855–1899) in Brompton, England on January 5, 1884.they met while she was attending Girton College, Cambridge.[1]

Theosophical Society involvement

On April 6, 1884, the Cooper-Oakleys were admitted as members of the Theosophical Society in London.[2] They accompanied H. P. Blavatsky to India later in the year. Isabel returned to England the next year while her husband stayed on in India.[3] She was a member of HPB's Inner Group in London.

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."[4]

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.[5]

In 1893 she visited Sydney, Australia, and then represented the Australian Theosophists at the World's Parliament of Religions, where she was a speaker.

Later years and death

Mrs. Cooper-Oakley died on March 3, 1914 in Budapest, Hungary.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8]


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:

  • Traces of a Hidden Tradition in Masonry and Mediæval Mysticis: Five essays . London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1900. 192 pages. Available at Hathitrust and Internet Archive.
  • The Comte de Saint-Germain: The Secret of Kings. London: Theosophical Pub. House, 1912. Also Dutch, Finnish, Italian, French, Polish, Romanian. Available at Sacred Texts.
  • 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. Reprinted Lightning Source Inc., 2005.
  • The Count of Saint-Germain and His Political Work.
  • Mystical Traditions. Milan, Italy: Ars Regia, 1909. 310 pages. Available at Hathitrust and Google Books.
  • Studies in the "Secret Doctrine". London: Theosophical Pub. Society, 1895
  • The Mystical Traditions and Masonry and Medieval Mysticism.
  • Samkhya and Yoga Philosophy.
  • Theosophical Gleanings. With Annie Besant. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Pub. House, 1978.
  • History of the Bonnets of Queen Victoria's Reign. London: Cassell & Company, Limited, 1888. From Woman's World. Volume 1, numbers 11 (September 1888), 506-509.

Additional resources


  1. London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1932. January 5, 1884.
  2. Theosophical Society General Membership Register, 1875-1942 at See book 1, entries 2763 and 2764 (website file: 1A/79).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. C. Jinarājadāsa, The "K. H." Letters to C. W. Leadbeater (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1941), 58-59.
  6. Times (London), March 5, 1914.
  7. Annie Besant, "Presidential Address," The General Report of the T. S. 1914 (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1915), 10.
  8. 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