Rosa Bates

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Rosa Bates was an English schoolteacher and one of the earliest members of the Theosophical Society.

Miss Bates met the Founders of the Theosophical Society, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Colonel Henry S. Olcott in New York during an extended period of time that she was visiting the United States. She and her friend Edward Wimbridge frequently visited Madame Blavatsky during 1877 and 1878. She was admitted as a member of the Theosophical Society on December 1, 1878, while he joined a few months earlier.[1]

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

Bates, Miss Rosa, English schoolteacher who joined the TS while in America in 1878. Returned to England in November of that year and, in 1879, went with the Founders to India. For a time she was part of the household at the Bombay headquarters but she and Mrs. Coulomb were at odds much of the time. Mr. Edward Wimbridge (see Alphabetical Note) took her part. Both left in 1880, and Miss Bates resigned from the TS.[2]

Additional details about Rosa Bates were published in a circular letter of September 7, 1880, addressed to "Theosophists and Arya Samajists" by Henry S. Olcott and H. P. Blavatsky, which was printed in the Indian periodical The Vivekavarthani at the urging of Damodar K. Mavalankar. In it the Founders stated that Bates and Wimbridge had become members a few weeks before sailing for India. The two did not assist in establishing the Society in India, and did not sympathize with the Founders' activities. Rosa Bates got into a rather public quarrel with another woman and was eventually expelled from the Society.[3]

Rosa Bates appears as "Miss B." in Blavatsky's fictionalized travel account, From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan.[4]


  1. Theosophical Society General Membership Register, 1875-1942 at See book 1, entry 170 (website file: 1A/14)
  2. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 218 .
  3. Henry S. Olcott and H. P. Blavatsky circular letter to Theosophists and Arya Samajists. September 7,1880. Published in The Vivekavarthani pages 159-160. Photostat of article is in Sidney Cook correspondence. Boris de Zirkoff Papers. Records Series 22. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
  4. H. P. Blavatsky, H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Volume I (Wheaton, Ill.: The Theosophical Press, 1966), 533.