Emma Hardinge Britten

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Emma Hardinge Britten

Emma Hardinge Britten was an American Spiritualist, medium, lecturer, and author who was present at the founding of the Theosophical Society in September, 1875.

According to Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:

Britten, Emma Hardinge, a well-known spiritualist in America, elected one of the Councillors of the TS at the organizing meeting in New York on September 7, 1875 (SH, p. 82). Some of the early meetings of the TS were held in her home (SH, p. 100). Author of the book, Art Magic, which she announced was written by "an adept" of her acquaintance, Louis Constant (apparently not the one who used the pseudonym of Éliphas Lévi) for whom she was "acting as translator and secretary." She left the TS fairly soon, however, became hostile, and joined with Prof. Coues and others in spreading calumny about HPB. See biography, HPB I: 466-7; ML, p. 50; SH, pp. 111, 275.[1]

According to historian Josephine Ransom:

Mrs. EMMA HARDINGE BRITTEN had been before the public for forty years as a Spiritualistic medium, inspirational lecturer, and authoress. Some of the early meetings of The Theosophical Society were held in her house. Her presence was considered necessary at the "formation" of The society. She published in her book, Nineteeenth Century Miracles, 1884, almost the only extant account of the meeting of 7 September. Just about the time Isis Unveiled was appearing, she was advertising a book called Art Magic. When sending the unpublished advertisement to Col. Olcott, she pointed out that the book anticipated, without any concerted action, whatever of Cabalistic lore the said Theosophical society might evolve. The book, she announced, was written by an adept of her acquaintance - the Chevalier Louis Constant - a life-long honoured friend, whom she had met in Europe and for whom she was acting as translator and secretary. Some persons hinted that the book was really being brought out by The Theosophical Society, and this provoked her wrath. She wrote to the newspapers that she looked upon such a statement as a libel, and instructed her legal adviser to take action against anyone who asserted either publicly or privately that the work in question had anything to do "with Col. Olcott, Madame Blavatsky, the New York Theosophical Society, or anything or person belonging to either those persons or that Society." Col. Olcott pointed out that thought there was some grave errors in the book, yet it marked a "literary epoch in American literature and thought."

Though Mrs. Britten left the Society fairly soon, she had a certain amount on contact with its leaders until 1890, when she joined with Prof. Coues and others in spreading the calumny that Isis Unveiled was written by Baron de Palm.[2]


Mrs. Hardinge-Britten was a prolific writer. The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists two articles that she wrote for The Theosophist. She is best known for histories of the Spiritualist movement in America and as founder of the magazine The Two Worlds at Manchester, England.

  • Modern American Spiritualism. New York, 1870.
  • Ghost land; or Researches into the Mysteries of Occultism. Boston, 1876.
  • Art Magic; or, Mundane, Sub-Mundane and Super-Mundane Spiritism. New York, 1876.
  • Faith, Facts and Frauds of Religious History.
  • Nineteenth Century Miracles. Manchester, 1883. Available at ehbritten.org or a better copy at Hathitrust.
  • Preface to A Biography of James M. Peebles by J. O. Barrett. Boston: Wm. White & Co, 1872. 303 pages. Several editions. Available at Hathitrust,.

Additional resources


  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), 221.
  2. Josephine Ransom, A Short History of The Theosophical Society (Adyar, Madras, India: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1938), 110-111.

Additional Resources