Mabel Collins

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Mabel Collins

Mabel Collins (1851-1927) is the name under which Mrs. Keningale Cook published her many writings. She was an English Theosophist, and author of at least 46 books, including Light on the Path, a perennial favorite among Theosophists.

Early life and education

Minna Mabel Collins was born on September 9, 1851 at St Peters Port, Guernsey. She "liked to refer to herself as a 'Nine' because she was the ninth child and was born on the ninth day of the ninth month."[1] Her parents were Edward James Mortimer Collins, a self-taught poet and journalist, and Susanna Hubbard, a merchant's daughter. When they married, Mortimer was nineteen years younger than his wife, who already had six children. The family moved frequently, as Mortimer repeatedly overspent and landed in debtors' prisons. "By the time she was twelve years old Minna had begun to write romances and verse herself. She had never attended school – what education she had was from her father. Poetry and philosophy formed the main content of her lessons."[2]


Mabel Collins.jpg

Young Minna began a new life when she married Keningale Robert Cook on August 3, 1871 at St. Peters Church in Knowl Hill. He was six years older than she, and was well educated at Rugby and Trinity College in Dublin. He earned several degrees culminating in a Doctorate in Laws in 1875. During the years at Trinity College he was employed by the Post Office dealing with money orders, but by 1875 he had become a stockbroker in London. He published a book of poetry and numerous articles for the magazine Woman. This same magazine began to publish Minna's writings as well. "Almost every issue contained Minna’s or Robert’s writings. They covered a range of subjects but were primarily concerned with education, the role of women and the arts." Her married life was not happy. She felt bored, and once remarked that on embarking into married life she felt her brain was atrophying. By the time of Robert's death in 1886 the Cooks' marriage had failed and the couple had separated.[3]

Working with H. P. Blavatsky

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky lived in the Keningale Cook house when she first arrived in England in 1887. The two women created the monthly journal Lucifer in September 1887, and worked together as editors until February 1889 when she resigned.

When Prof. Elliott Coues attempted to discredit Madame Blavatsky in his May 11, 1889 article published in the Religio-Philosophical Journal, he used as evidence an unsigned and undated note purportedly sent by Mabel Collins in 1885. He had inquired about the authorship of the Collins work Light on the Path. The note claimed that the Mahatmas inspired the writing of the book.[4] HPB quickly and vigorously disputed Coues in a letter to Light, written June 1, 1889.[5]

Other activities

Mabel Collins in June, 1921

Before encountering Theosophy, Mabel became a renowned medium. In later years, however, she opposed Spiritualism vigorously. Her experiences at the séances, both as a medium and as part of the circle, led her to believe that the practice was highly dangerous; a view that agreed with that of H. P. Blavatsky and her Masters.

Mabel Collins was also known for her work for animal rights and her campaign against vivisection. She founded the Incorporated Parliamentary Association for the Abolition of Vivisection, which was registered as a corporation on February 22, 1907.[6]

Writings in periodicals

The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists more than 230 articles under the name Mabel Collins, including those she wrote, reviews of her writings, and excerpts from her popular books. These are some examples:

  • "Pensées," a long-running series of reprints in Le Lotus Bleu.
  • "In the New Forest." The English Illustrated Magazine (June, 1885). Illustrated.
  • "Thoreau: Hermit and Thinker." The Dublin University Magazine (November, 1877).
  • "In a Corner of Bohemia." Tinsley's Magazine, Volume 24-26. Book published serially.
  • "Love Is More Than Life." Home Chimes (1885). Book published serially.
  • The Blossom and the Fruit: The True Story of a Magician was another book published serially in Lucifer in 1888.

She also wrote numerous articles for the magazine Woman, as did her husband.


Novel coauthored with Charlotte Despard
Morial the Mahatma

Mabel Collins wrote at least 46 books. These are the English-language titles according to the [7], listed here by publication date:

  • An Innocent Sinner; a Psychological Romance. London: Tinsley Bros., 1877. Available online at Google Books.
  • Our Bohemia. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1879.
  • In This World: a Novel. London: Chapman and Hall, 1879. Available online at Google Books.
  • Too Red a Dawn. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1881.
  • Cobwebs. London: Tinsley Brothers, 1882. Also printed with subtitle "Tales."
  • In the Flower of Her Youth. A Novel.. London: F. V. White & Co., 1883. Available online at Google Books.
  • Viola Fanshawe. A novel. London: F. V. White & Co., 1884.
  • Light on the Path. Subtitle "a treatise written for the personal use of those who are ignorant of the eastern wisdom, and who desire to enter within its influence." (1885). Published in numerous editions and languages.
  • The Prettiest Woman in Warsaw. London: Ward and Downey, 1885. New York: G. Munro, 1886 (and 1887 5th edition). Available online at Google Books.
  • Lord Vanecourt's Daughter. A Novel. London: Ward & Downey, 1885. New York: Harper & Bros., 1886. Cleveland: Arthur Westbrook Co., 1890, 1985.
  • Through the Gates of Gold. London: Ward and Downey, 1887 and Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1887 and numerous other editions. One prominent edition paired it with Dreams by South African feminist Olive Schreiner.
  • The Blossom and the Fruit Subtitle: "a true story of a black magician." London, 1887. Sydney, Australia, 1887. Reprinted New York, J.W. Lovell Co., 1889. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1910. Advertised as "a tale of mystery and adventure." Available online at Internet Archive and Google Books.J
  • Ida: an Adventure in Morocco. London: Ward & Downey, 1890. New York : J.W. Lovell, 1890.
  • The Confessions of a Woman. New York: J.W. Lovell, 1890.
  • A Debt of Honour. New York: Lovell, 1891. London; Sydney, N.S.W.: Eden, Remington & Co., Publishers, 1892.
  • Morial the Mahatma. New York: United States Book Co., 1891. New York, Lovell, Gestefeld & Co. 1892.
  • Suggestion. New York: Lovell, Gestefeld & Co., 1892.
  • Juliet’s Lovers. London: Ward & Downey, 1893. Available online at Internet Archive in three parts:Part I, Part II, Part III.
  • The Story of the Year. Subtitle: "a record of feasts and ceremonies." London: George Redway, 1895.
  • Green Leaves. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., Ld., 1895.
  • The Star Sapphire. London, 1896. Boston: Roberts Bros., 1896. London: Anthony Treherne & Co., Ld., 1902.
  • Pleasure and Pain. Subtitle: "an Essay in Practical Occultism Addressed to Readers of 'Light on the Path'". London: Isis Publishing Co., 1896.
  • The Illumined Way. Subtitle: "a Guide to Neophytes, Being a Sequel to 'Light on the Path'". Chicago, Ill.: The Yogi Publication Society, 1800s. This is a later edition in book form of the Comments on Light on the Path that Mabel Collins published monthly in Lucifer magazine, from September 1887 to January 1888.
  • When Love Is True, or, The Story of an Heiress. New York: Street & Smith, 1902.
  • The Scroll of the Disembodied Man. London: John M. Watkins, 1904. Written with Helen Bourchier. Available online at Google Books.
  • A Cry from Afar. Subtitle: "to students of Light on the Path." Percy Lund, Humphries and Co., 1905. Reprinted New York: Theosophical Publishing Company, 1907; London, Theosophical Publishing Society, 1913; London, 1954.
  • Illusions. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1905. Essays on the inner side of nature, illustrated by actual psychic experiences.
  • Love's Chaplet. London: Theosophical Publishing Society], 1905. A short treatise on the inner life. Available online at Google Books.
  • The Awakening. London: Theosophical Publishing Society], 1906 and 1915. An account of how Light on the Path came to be. Excerpted in The Temple Artisan article "Death - Life's Great Portal."
  • Fragments of Thought and Life. Subtitle: "being seven essays, and seven fables in illustration of the essays." London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1908.
  • Outlawed. Subtitle: "A Novel on the Woman Suffrage Question." London: Henry J. Drame, 1908. Coauthored with Charlotte Despard.
  • One Life One Law. Subtitle: "Thou Shall Not Kill." London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1909. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1938.
  • The Builders. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1910.
  • The Story of Sensa. Subtitle: "An Interpretation of the Idyll of the White Lotus." London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1911. New York: J.W. Lovelle, 1913 and Los Angeles: Theosophical Publishing House, 1913, 1920. Available online at Internet Archive in two versions[1][2] and at Google Books.
  • When the Sun Moves Northward. Subtitle: "being a treatise on the six sacred months: containing the mystic ritual from the Story of the year and the teaching concerning the resurrection from Green leaves." London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1912. London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1923. Chicago, IL: Theosophical Press, 1912, 1923. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1948 and 1963. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1941.
  • The Crucible. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1914. In September-October 1914, MC wrote her prediction that World War I, which had commenced the previous month, would turn into a crucible for humanity. She wrote of her experiences visiting wounded soldiers, and of talking with members of "Kitchener's Army." MC described this book, and experiences that led to writing it, in an article in The Messenger, September, 1921.
  • As the Flower Grows. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1915. Also, London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1919. Subtitle: "some visions and an interpretation, in two parts.
  • Our Glorious Future Subtitle: the Interpretation of "Light on the Path". First Edition 1915. Edinburgh: Theosophical Book Shop, 1917 (2nd edition).
  • The Locked Room. Subtitle: "A True Story of Experiences in Spiritualism." London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1920.
  • Designers and manufacturers of artistic garden pots, sundials, birds' baths, birds' feeding tables, etc. etc. in red and grey terra cotta. Subtitle: "a treatise written for the personal use of those who are ignorant of the Eastern wisdom and who desire to enter within its influence, and An essay on Karma." Compton: Potters' Arts Guild, 1921. With an introduction by C.W.Leadbeater.

Impact of her writings

Light on the Path, Through the Gates of Gold, and Idyll of the White Lotus have been widely read by Theosophists worldwide and translated into numerous languages, including Dutch, German, Spanish, Slovenian, French, Croatian, Danish, Sanskrit, Swedish, Czech, Norwegian, Finnish, Sindhi, Russian, Polish, Tamil, Italian, Portuguese, Amharic, Japanese, Telegu, and Esperanto.

Idyll of the White Lotus was adapted into a play by Maud Hoffman Sensa, a Mystery Play in Three Acts.[8]

Online resources


  1. "Collins, Mabel" at Theosopedia.
  2. Kim Farnell, "The Many Lives of Mabel Collins," Theosophical History Conference 2003, available at
  3. Kim Farnell, "The Many Lives of Mabel Collins," Theosophical History Conference 2003, available at
  4. The Theosophical Movement 1875 -1950 (Los Angeles, CA: Cunningham Press, 1951), 143. Available at
  5. ''Light: A Journal of Psychical, Occult, and Mystical Research (June 8, 1889), 278. Available at Google Books.
  6. Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Papers by command, Volume 96 (HMSO, 1908), 67.
  7. OCLC Worldcat online database.OCLC Worldcat library union catalog
  8. Published in 1950 by Theosophical University Press in Covina, California.