Margaret Cousins

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Early years

Activism and imprisonment

Women's Indian Association

On White Lotus Day, May 8, 1917 the Women's Indian Association was established by Dorothy Jinarājadāsa, with Annie Besant as President and Margaret Cousins as the Honorable General Secretary. It was an organization formed to support local women's groups in their efforts toward self-development, education, and service.

G. Venkatachalam wrote:

Mrs. M. E. Cousins, whom also I have the privilege to claim as a friend, is a great woman, a sensitive artist, a fine spirit. She awakened the women of India to their rights and responsibilities even as Annie Besant awakened the men to their great heritage and greater future. Mrs. Cousins is a delightful hostess, a lively conversationalist, a good and loyal friend. Many Indian women in public life today owe their inspiration to her.[1]

Other work

In 1932, when Dr. and Mrs. Cousins were in New York, she organized a vegetarian society. The first public meeting was held in the auditorium of the Washington Irving High School, which happened to be the site of the 46 Irving Place building where the Theosophical Society was founded.[2]

During the 1930s, Mrs. Cousins worked with Dr. Anna Kamensky to establish the International Centre in Geneva, Switzerland.

Musical career


Dr. and Mrs. Cousins coauthored an autobiography, We Two Together, a lengthy work in which their travels and activities are featured in a lively writing style. It was published in 1950 by Ganesh & Co. of Madras.

  • The Music of Orient and Occident: Essays towards Mutual Understandings. Madras: B. G. Paul, 1935.

Additional resources



  • Candy, Catherine. Margaret Cousins: Irish Theosophist in Indian Feminism.
  • Candy, Catherine. Mystics Against Empire: Margaret and James Cousins, 1873-1956. Taylor & Francis Group, 2023. 320 pages. "This book traces the careers of Margaret and James Cousins, mystical revolutionaries who were key players in some of the most important cultural and political events of the first half of the twentieth century. Margaret Cousins (1878-1954), was a leading suffragist dynamo and radical feminist revolutionary presence in the Irish cultural revival. Her husband, James Cousins (1873-1956), was a writer in the circle of Yeats and Joyce and a life-long nationalist and cosmopolitan activist. As suffragists in Ireland and England, the Cousins helped shape the feminist movement in both places, especially in their efforts to tie it to the international labour movement. Migrating to India during the first world war, for the next four decades they were at the helm of the feminist, musical, literary and educational wings of the Indian freedom movement alongside, and sometimes against, Gandhi. Few people were so intimately and so passionately involved in both movements of Irish and Indian decolonization and this dual biography demonstrates the intricate interconnectedness of a number of disparate histories: of empire; feminism; religion; gender and sexuality; culture; and anti-colonial nationalism."

Audio recordings


  1. G. Venkatachalam, My Contemporaries (Bangalore: Hosali Press, 1966), 323.
  2. G. C. Huckaby, "The Lamasery," The Theosophist 60.10 (July 1934), 469-470.