Roden Noel

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Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel (August 27, 1834 — May 26, 1894) was an English poet. His work is permeated by philosophic thought. He was interested in Spiritualism, and he wrote arguing against some Theosophical teachings.

Personal life

Interest in Spiritualism

Noel was a founding vice-president of the Society for Psychical Research.[1]

Theosophical Society involvement

Noel was well acquainted with several people who were active in the Theosophical Society, but never became a member himself. He joined the Hermetic Society, an offshoot of the Hermetic Lodge of the Theosophical Society in London. Theosophists with whom he associated include C. C. Massey, Edward Maitland, Isabelle de Steiger, Mohini Mohun Chatterji, Arthur Lillie, Wynn Westcott and MacGregor Mathers. He read The Theosophist, but never contributed to it.

Mentions in Mahatma Letters

The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett refers to Mr. Noel in Mahatma Letter No. 104 (Barker number 25), in which Mahatma KH rebuked A. P. Sinnett for failing to refute Noel's writings:

Only read Mr. Roden Noel's disquisitions and diatribes in Light! Indeed, indeed, you ought to have answered them as advised by me through H.P.B. Your silence is a brief triumph to the pious gentleman, and seems like a desertion of poor Mr. Massey.[2]

Another reference is in Mahatma Letter No. 111 in the chronological numbering, or No. 59 in the Barker scheme of numbering. On Page 18 he is mentioned in a section about sacred geometry:

Well may the Geometer of the R.S. not know that the apparent absurdity of attempting to square the circle covers a mystery ineffable. It would hardly be found among the foundation stones of Mr. Roden Noel's speculations upon the "pneumatical body . . . of our Lord," nor among the debris of Mr. Farmer's "A New Basis of Belief in Immortality"; and to many such metaphysical minds it would be worse than useless to divulge the fact, that the Unmanifested Circle — the Father, or Absolute Life — is non-existent outside the Triangle and Perfect Square, and — is only manifested in the Son; and that it is when, reversing the action and returning to its absolute state of Unity, and the square expands once more into the Circle — that "the Son returns to the bosom of the Father"...[3]


Noel was one of the first supporters of and contributors to Light. He frequently wrote letters and articles that were printed in Spiritualist, occult, and literary magazines including Daybreak and Medium, The Spiritualist, Borderland, The Occult Review, and Contemporary Review. It is clear that he regularly read The Theosophist, but he did not contribute to it.


  • The Collected Poems of Rhoden Noel. London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1902. Available at Internet Archive.
  • Behind the Veil, and Other Poems. London; Cambridge: Macmillan, 1863. Not in Collected Poems. Available at Hathitrust.
  • Beatrice, and Other Poems. London: MacMillan and Co., 1868. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1869. 106 pages.
  • The Red Flag. 1872. 2nd edition London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1883. Available at Hathitrust.
  • Livingstone in Africa. London: S. Low, Marston, Low and Searle, 1874. This poem is written in blank verse, iambic pentameter. The author added a preface that is philosophical and scholarly. Available at Hathitrust and Internet Archive.
  • The Waternymph and the Boy. Llandogo, Monmouthshire: Old Stile Press, 1997. Linocuts by J. Martin Pitts set to a Noel poem. "The edition is limited to 225 copies, signed by the artist."--Colophon.
  • A Little Child's Monument. London: C. Kegan Paul, 1881. Available at Hathitrust.
  • Songs of the Heights and Deeps. 1885.
  • A Modern Faust, and Other Poems. London: K. Paul, Trnech, 1888. 255 pages. Available at Hathitrust and [Internet Archive.
  • Poor People's Christmas. London: Elkin Mathews, 1890. 22 pages.
  • My Sea, and Other Poems. London: E. Mathews; Chicago: Way & Williams, 1896. Available at Hathitrust and Internet Archive.
  • Poems of the Hon. Roden Noel: a Selection. New York: Walter Scott, Limited, 1892. 368 pages.
  • Selected Poems from the Works of the Hon. Roden Noel. London: Elkin Mathews, 1897. With biographical and critical essay by Percy Addleshaw.

The poem "Sea Slumber-song" was used as lyrics for a song in a collection:

  • Sea-pictures: a cycle of five songs for contralto, op. 37. London; New York: Boosey & Hawkes, 1900, 1943.

Other literary work

  • Essays on Poetry and Poets. London: Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co., 1886. 356 pages. A collection of English, American, and French poetry, edited by Roden Noel. Available at Hathitrust, Google Books, and Internet Archive.
  • Thomas Otway. London: Vizetelly, 1888. This was a collection of plays edited by Roden Noel.
  • The Poems of Edmund Spenser. London: W. Scott, 1886. 344 pages. Edited with biographical and critical essay and glossary by the Hon. Roden Noel. Available at Hathitrust.
  • The House of Ravensburg. London: Daldy, Ibiser, 1877. 147 pages. A drama in five acts and verse. Available at Hathitrust.
  • The Psychology of Scepticism and Phenomenalism. Glasgow: James Maclehose, 1874. 59 pages. James Andrews, physician, and Roden Noel.
  • A Philosophy of Immortality. 1882.


  • "Syrian Travel, and Syrian Tribes" in Vacation Tourists and Notes of Travel in 1860 edited by Francis Galton. London, 1861. See pg


  1. W. C. Lubenow, The Cambridge Apostles, 1820-1914: Liberalism, Imagination, and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 229
  2. Mahatma Letter No. 104, page 8.
  3. Mahatma Letter No. 111, page 18.