Laura C. Holloway

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Laura C. Holloway

Laura Carter Holloway-Langford was an American journalist and clairvoyant who became a chela of the Mahatmas.

Personal life

Laura Carter was born in Nashville, Tennessee on August 22, 1848 to farmer Samuel Jefferson Carter and his wife Ann, who had fourteen children. Laura was educated at the Nashville Female Academy.

She married Junius Brutus Holloway, Lieutenant in the Union Army, in 1862, and a friend of the Henry Clay family. They had one child, Charles, in 1864. However, the marriage quickly fell apart, and ended in divorce. Laura moved to New York and took up a career as an editor and writer.[1]

In April, 1890, Mrs. Holloway married Colonel Edward L. Langford, secretary and treasurer of the Brooklyn and Brighton Beach Railway, and president of the Fulton Street elevated road. He had served with distinction in the Civil War.[2] She continued using "Laura C. Holloway" as her nom-de-plume after this marriage. Mrs. Langford died on July 10, 1930 at her home in Canaan, New York.[3]

Writing career

Mrs. Holloway

In New York, Mrs. Holloway took up writing to support herself. By 1870 she had published a bestselling anthology called Ladies of the White House; or, In the Home of the Presidents. It sold nearly 150,000 copies worldwide, and gave Laura a degree of financial independence. That same year, she advanced in her journalistic career at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, being promoted from reporter to associate editor.She held that position for twelve years, from 1879-1884.

Mrs. Holloway was also a social activist and lecturer:

She gave readings of literature and poetry and lectured on such topics as coeducation and women journalists. Her most famous lecture, “The Perils of the Hour” (1870), concerned “the obstacles that check the advancement of woman.” A suffragist who knew Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Anna Dickinson, Laura nonetheless criticized “strong-minded women” and their masculine habits. She supported temperance, urging the New York City Board of Education to adopt anti-alcohol textbooks.[4]

Other popular books that she wrote included:

  • An Hour with Charlotte Bronte, or Flowers from a Yorkshire Moor, 1883
  • The Hearthstone, or Life at Home, a Household Manual, 1883
  • The Mothers of Great Men and Women
  • Famous American Fortunes and the Men Who Have Made Them
  • The Home in Poetry
  • Chinese Gordon: Songs of the Masters
  • Howard, the Christian Hero
  • Adelaide Nelson: A Biography
  • The Buddhist Diet Book
  • The Woman’s Story, as told by Famous American Women, 1888
  • The Story of a Piano, 1900
  • Atma Fairy Stories, 1903, a children's book inspired by Theosophy

She also edited Kuffereth's Parsifal, translated from the French; and The Bayreuth of Wagner. She made numerous contributions to magazines and newspapers. Her love of music, and especially that of Wagner, led to formation of the Seidl Society of Brooklyn, of which she was president from 1887-1898. She was co-editor with Anton Seidl in the musical materials of The Standard Dictionary.[5]

Theosophical Society involvement

In the 1870s, Mrs. Holloway became aware of Theosophy. She read A. P. Sinnett's books Esoteric Buddhism and The Occult World. In 1883 she was admitted as a member of the Theosophical Society in New York. William Quan Judge signed the certificate.[6]

In 1884, she traveled to Europe to meet Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (in Paris), and other Theosophists, including Francesca Arundale, young George S. Arundale, Mohini Chatterji, A. P. Sinnett, and others. She stayed about six months with Society members. At first she was a guest of Miss Francesca Arundale, and in June went to stay with the Sinnetts.

Man: Fragments of Forgotten History

In July 1884, probably while at the house of Francesca Arundale, she wrote Man: Fragments of a Forgotten History with Mohini Chatterji, using the pseudonym "Two Chelâs".[7] The work is published in 1885 by Reeves and Turner.


Mr. Sinnett, knowing that she was a pupil of Master K.H., was very excited about the possibility of having a communication with him through Mrs. Holloway, independently of Mme. Blavatsky. The young and inexperienced probationary chela began to "channel" the Master for the Sinnetts. Alfred wrote:

On the evening of the 6th July we had an interview with the Master K.H. through Mrs. Holloway. On this occasion he actually took possession of her and spoke to us in the first person. Previously she had merely a consciousness and repeated whatever he said.[8]

Mme. Blavatsky disapproved this behaviour, but Mr. Sinnett assumed it was due to jealousy. She insisted that Mrs. Holloway should leave the Sinnetts and go back with the Arundales, which she eventually did. On July 18, 1884, the Master sent a letter to Mr. Sinnett saying that he had not communicated with anybody thorugh Mrs. H.:

I have never bound you to anything thro' Mrs. H.; never communicated with you or any one else thro' her — nor have any of my, or M.'s chelas, to my knowledge, except in America, once at Paris and another time at Mrs. A.'s house. She is an excellent but quite undeveloped clairvoyante. Had she not been imprudently meddled with, and had you followed the old woman's and Mohini's advice indeed, by this time I might have spoken with you thro' her — and such was our intention.[9]

Mr. Sinnett "distrusted the bona fides of the letter at the time and soon became quite convinced that it was a fabrication by the O.L."[10]

In August 1884, Mrs. Holloway received a letter from Master K.H. saying:

You draw to yourself the nearest and strongest influences — often evil — and absorb them, and are psychically stifled or narcotised by them. The airs become peopled with resuscitated phantoms. They give you false tokens, misleading revelations, deceptive images. Your vivid creative fancy evokes illusive Gurus and chelas, and puts into their mouths words coined the instant before in the mint of your mind, unknown to yourself.[11]

On August 16, 1884, Mrs. Holloway, along with Mme. Blavatsky, Mohini, Bertram Keightley, Mrs. Arundale, Miss F. Arundale and George Arundale, leave London for Elberfeld, Germany, and stay at the mansion of Consul Gustav Gebhard and Mary Gebhard.

Seeing the Master

In July 1884 Laura Holloway was in the studio of the German artist Hermann Schmiechen, then living in London, where a group of Theosophists including Mme. Blavatsky, Patience Sinnett, Mohini Chatterji, and others, had gathered to witness the attempt of the young artist at painting a portrait of the Master K.H. Writing in Third Person, Laura stated that after the artist started she...

... saw the figure of a man outline itself beside the easel and, while the artist with head bent over his work continued his outlining, it stood by him without a sign or motion. She leaned over to her friend and whispered, "It is the Master KH; he is being sketched. He is standing near Mr. Schmiechen." "Describe his looks and dress," called out HPB. And while those in the room were wondering over Madame Blavatsky's exclamation, the woman addressed said: "He is about Mohini's height; slight of build, wonderful face full of light and animation; flowing curly black hair, over which is worn a soft cap. He is a symphony in greys and blues. His dress is that of a Hindu—though it is far finer and richer than any I have ever seen before—and there is fur trimming about his costume. It is his picture that is being made."[12]

In October 1884 she was going back to New York, and had a meeting with the Masters on board of the ship:

Going on board the steamer in the afternoon I retired at once to my stateroom and, later on, while reading quietly the room was filled with a blazing light that came like a flood upon me.

Two Masters stood in the midst of this light and conversed with me. It was the most transcendent Vision I had ever seen, or shall hope to see again, and while these enlightened Beings were with me they instructed me regarding my future

One of the glorious Beings I saw on that never-to-be-forgotten evening at sea, was H.P.B., and then and there my vision was strengthened, and I was carefully instructed regarding my one gift --- the power to pass easily from the physical to the astral plane, and the tasks I was to perform on that plane, while living in the body and doing my duty according to my ability.[13]

Receiving letters from Mahatmas

Mrs. Holloway is known to have received at least thirteen letters from the Master K. H. These are compiled in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series and in the 2012 book Mrs. Holloway and the Mahatmas.

Testimony to the S.P.R.

In December, 1884, Mrs. Holloway was asked to sit for an interview by the Society for Psychical Research, in the investigation conducted by Richard Hodgson. She asked for anonymity, and was designed as "Mrs. X" in the subsequent "Hodgson Report". She was regarded as a first degree witness to Master K.H. in his astral form:

This lady is well-known to one member of the Committee, and appears to him to be an exceptionally conscientious, accurate, and trustworthy informant. The reasons which she has given for withholding her name, and the bulk of her evidence, from even the limited public to which this paper is addressed, are fully intelligible to us. But we may say, in brief, that she reports herself to have distinctly and repeatedly seen Koot Hoomi in “astral body,” in a country distant from India, before she had even seen his picture (which she subsequently recognised), and without discovering who he was; that she acted on communications made to her in these interviews; and that these communications were afterwards confirmed by letters in the Koot Hoomi handwriting, addressed not only to Madame Blavatsky and others, but to Mrs. X. herself, under such conditions that no other person, as she maintains, could possibly have had a hand in them.[14]

Later years

When she returned to Brooklyn, she remained a Theosophist, writing articles for The Word, but never became active in the Theosophical Society. Concurrently with her interest in Theosophy, Mrs. Holloway had been attracted to the lifestyle and beliefs of the Shaker community. She moved to a farm in Canaan, New York, and lived there for several decades until her death in 1930. Her body was cremated.[15]

Additional resources

  • Caldwell, Daniel H. Mrs. Holloway and the Mahatmas: including Articles by Laura C. Holloway and Letters from H.P. Blavatsky, the Mahatma K.H. and the Mahatma M.. The Blavatsky Study Center, 2012. See Blavatsky Archives website.
  • Blavatsky, H. P. (Helena Petrovna), 1831-1891. [Collection of materials on theosophy]. 1884-[1920]. Call Number ASC 1198. See Finding Aid. Edward Deming Andrews Memorial Shaker Collection. The Winterthur Library. Winterthur, Delaware.
  • Holloway, Laura C. (Laura Carter), 1848-1930. Scrapbook and library, circa 1860-1929. Call Number Col. 900. See Finding Aid. The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera. The Winterthur Library. Winterthur, Delaware.
  • Holloway, Laura C. (Laura Carter), 1848-1930. Papers. 1874-1926, bulk dates 1902-1926. Call Number ASC 1202. See Finding Aid. Edward Deming Andrews Memorial Shaker Collection. The Winterthur Library. Winterthur, Delaware.
  • Holloway-Langford, Laura C. in Theosophy World.


  1. Claudia J. Keenan, Laura Carter Holloway Langford (1843-1930), The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.[1]
  2. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 21, 1890, p. 18.
  3. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 11, 1930, p. 13.
  4. Claudia J. Keenan, Laura Carter Holloway Langford (1843-1930), The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.[2]
  5. The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Volume VI. Boston: The Biographical Dictionary, 1904.
  6. [[
  7. Two Chelas, Man: Fragments of a Forgotten History, 1887. The complete text is available at the Canadian Theosophical Association
  8. Alfred Percy Sinnett, "The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe", (London:Theosophical Publishing House Ltd., 1922), 61.
  9. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 127 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 426.
  10. Alfred Percy Sinnett, "The Early Days of Theosophy in Europe", (London:Theosophical Publishing House Ltd., 1922), 61-62.
  11. Daniel H. Caldwell, Mrs. Holloway and the Mahatmas: Published and Unpublished Mahatma Letters to and about Mrs. Laura C. Holloway, Letter 17 available at The Blavatsky Archives.
  12. A Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas Case 45, compiled and edited by Daniel H. Caldwell
  13. A Casebook of Encounters with the Theosophical Mahatmas Case 49, compiled and edited by Daniel H. Caldwell
  14. Appendix to the SPR Report. First Report of the Committee of the Society for Psychical Research, Appointed to Investigate the Evidence for Marvellous Phenomena offered by Certain Members of the Theosophical Society. London: Society for Psychical Research, 1884.
  15. Claudia J. Keenan, Laura Carter Holloway Langford (1843-1930), The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture.[3]