Besant writings

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Annie Besant (1847-1933) was a prolific writer throughout her life. She wrote books, pamphlets, and articles during her activities with the Freethought Movement, the Fabian Socialists, and the Indian independence movement; and as a lecturer and President (1907-1933) of the Theosophical Society based in Adyar, Chennai, India. Over 2500 articles and editorials written for periodicals of the Theosophical Movement are documented in the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals under the name Annie Besant. She also wrote many articles for popular newspapers and magazines, and for Spiritualist journals such as The Occult Review. For her huge contributions to Theosophical literature, she was awarded the Subba Row Medal. See also Besant lectures, as some lecture transcriptions may appear in print in mixed collections of articles and lectures.

Many of her books, pamphlets, and published lectures are listed below alphabetically within categories. For a chronological presentation of all titles, with supplemental information, see Annie Besant Shrine at

Autobiographical books and pamphlets

AB Autobiography.jpg
  • Annie Besant: the Atheist Years. Edited with an introduction by J. Gordon Melton. New York: Garland Pub. Co., 1990. "Reprint of thirteen pamphlets from 1883-1890.”
  • Annie Besant: An Autobiography. London, 1893. Available at
  • Autobiographical Sketches. London, Free Thought Publishing Company, 1885. Available from Hathitrust.
  • My Path to Atheism. 3rd ed. London, Freethought Pub. Co., 1885. Available at Hathitrust.

Early social activism

Book advocating birth control, 1878
  • Essays on Socialism. London: Freethought Pub. Co., 1887. Available at Hathitrust.
  • Essays, Political and Social. London: Freethought Pub. Co., 1887.
  • The Ethics of Punishment. Bristol, 1874. London: Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh, 1880, 1883.
  • The Gospel of Christianity, and the Gospel of Freethought. London: Freethought Publishing Company, 1883. Available at Wikisource.
  • The Influence of Alcohol: a lecture delivered in the Livesy Central Temperance Hall, Scrutton St., London, on Sunday morning, February 7th, 1892. London: 1892. Available at Hathitrust.
  • Is the Bible indictable? Being an inquiry whether the Bible comes within the ruling of the Lord Chief Justice as to obscene literature. London: Freethought Publ. Co., [1877?]. Available at Hathitrust.
  • The Law of Population: Its Consequences and Its Bearing Upon Human Conduct and Morals. London: Freethought Pu. Co., 1877. Available at Internet Archive.
  • Life, Death and Immortality. London: Freethought Publishing Company, 1886. Available at Google Books. 32 pages.
  • The Redistribution of Political Power. London: Freethought Publishing Co., 1885.
  • On the Religious Education of Children. London: Thomas Scott, 1874. Available at Google Books.
  • A Selection of the Social and Political Pamphlets of Annie Besant. With a pref. & bibliographical notes by John Saville. New York, A. M. Kelley, 1970. Searchable at Hathitrust. A compilation of 27 pamphlets with notes about previous publication.
  • Sin and Crime: Their Nature and and Treatment. London: Freethought Publishing Co., 1885.
  • Is Socialism Sound?: Verbatim Report of a Four Nights' Debate Between Annie Besant and G. W. Foote at the Hall of Science, Old St., London, E.C., on February 2nd, 9th, 16th, and 23rd, 1887. With G. W. Foote. London: Progressive Pub. Co., 1887. Available at Hathitrust.
  • The Trades Union Movement. London, Free-thought Pub. Co., 1890. Available at Hathitrust.

India and Indian independence

  • England, India and Afghanistan. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1941.
  • For India's Uplift; a Collection of Speeches and Writings on Indian Questions. Madras, India: G.A. Nateson [1910]. Available at Hathitrust.
  • The Future of Indian Politics. Adyar, Madras, India: 1922.
  • How India Wrought for Freedom. Adyar, Madras, India: 1915.
  • India and the Empire, a Lecture and Various Papers on Indian Grievances. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1914. Available at Hathitrust.
  • India: a Nation: a Plea for Self-government. With C. P. Ramaswami Aiyar. London: T. C. & E. C. Jack ; [1916]. Available at Hathitrust.
  • Problems of Reconstruction: Lectures delivered at the forty-third Anniversary Meeting of the Theosophical Society at Delhi, December, 1918. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1919.Four lectures: Religious Reconstruction, Social Reconstruction, Political Reconstruction, Educational Reconstruction.
  • Speeches & Writings of Annie Besant. Madras, India: G.A. Natesan & Co., 1921. "A thoroughly revised and enlarged edition of 'For India's uplift'."

Besant Spirit series

All the books in this series were published at Adyar by the Theosophical Publishing House.

  • The Besant Spirit: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 1. 1938. 111 pages.
  • Ideals in Education: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 2. 1939. 146 pages.
  • Indian Problems: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 3. 1939. 155 pages. With George S. Arundale.
  • A Charter of a Nation's Liberty: Being the Presidential Address to the Indian National Congress, 1917: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 4. 1939. 148 pages. With George S. Arundale.
  • India, Bond or Free?: A World Problem: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 5. 1939. 246 pages. With George S. Arundale.
  • The High Purpose of War: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 6. 1940. 110 pages. With George S. Arundale.
  • Essentials of an Indian Education: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 7. 1942. 109 pages.
  • Annie Besant, Builder of New India: Her Fundamental Principles of Nation Building: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 9. 1942. 556 pages. Compiled by Adeltha Peterson, with the co-operation of J.L. Davidge, C.S. Sarangam, and Mrs. J.W. Halsey.
  • Guide and Index to Annie Besant, Builder of New India: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 10. 1943. 224 pages. Compiled by Adeltha Peterson.
  • The Great Vision: Annie Besant's Plan for the New World: The Besant Spirit Series, No. 11. 1944. 176 pages. Passages from A. Besant's writings selected by Elithe Nisewanger and edited by J.L. Davidge.


Besant's fervent advocation of educational reform led her to publish several pamphlets on the subject; among these were Education as a National Duty (Banaras, 1903), The Education of Indian Girls (Banaras, 1903), Principles of Education (Madras, 1915), Education for the New Era (London, 1919), Theosophical Education Report (Madras, 1917), and the Kamala Lectures: Indian Ideals in Education & Philosophy, Religion and Art (Calcutta, 1925).[1]

In support of the work of the Society for the Promotion of National Education, she produced three volumes of stories for Indian children, compiled from the Hitopadesha, a book of Hindu fables:

  • Value of Friendship
  • Disunion of Friends
  • Sri Rama and Sita Devi

Other publications arising from her educational work include:

  • Education for the New Era. London, 1919. Theosophical Educational Trust (TPH).
  • Education as the Basis of National Life. Adyar, Madras: The Theosophist Office, Delivered at Adyar, in The Theosophical Hall, February 23, 1908. (Second edition).
  • Principles of Education. Adyar, Madras: Society for the Promotion of National Education, 1918. Reprinted by the Theosophical Society in 1932, subtitled "with a scheme applying them to national education in India, dedicated to parents, guardians and teachers".
  • Lectures on Political Science. Adyar, Madras: Society for the Promotion of National Education, 1919.
  • The Story of the Great War, Some Lessons from the Mahābhārata for the Use of Hindū students in the Schools of India. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1919. "From notes of lectures originally delivered at the Central Hindu college, Benares." 2nd edition available at Hathitrust.

See also "Educational Ideas of Annie Besant" by Chandra Lekha Singh.

Theosophical writings

  • The Ancient Wisdom. 1897. Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1911 edition is available at Originally serialized in Lucifer.
  • Buddhism. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1941.
  • The Changing World. London: The Theosophical Publishing Society, 1910. Also available at Gutenberg and Forgotten Books. Fifteen Lectures delivered in London during May, June, and July 1909. It was reprinted many times, and issued in a shorter version as The Immediate Future. Reviewed briefly in The Messenger, July 1919, page 63.
  • Culture of the Soul. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1894. An Address delivered by Mrs. Besant on the 5th of June, at a Meeting of the London Lodge, on Indian Methods of Spiritual Self Culture. Transactions of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society; no. 22.
  • Daily meditations on the path and its qualifications: from the works of Annie Besant. Compiled by E.G. Cooper. Adyar, Madras, India : Theosophical Pub. House, 1943. Searchable by Hathitrust.
  • Dharma. 3rd edition - Krotona, Calif., 1918.
  • Five Sermonettes. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1929. Delivered by Annie Besant in the Liberal Catholic Church in Huizen, Holland, July 12-16, 1927.
  • The Guardians of Humanity. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophist Office, 1908. Delivered in the Theosophical Hall, Adyar, on March 8, 1908. Adyar popular lectures; no. 6.
  • The Immediate Future. London: Theosophical Pub. Society, 1911. A shorter version of The Changing World. 1919.
  • An Introduction to Yoga. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1908. Later edition available at Hathitrust.
  • Jainism. Adyar, India: Theosophical Pub. House, 1949, 1997. Reprint of a Convention Lecture delivered in 1901 at Adyar, on the 26th anniversary of the Theosophical Society. Searchable at Hathitrust.
  • Karma. 1895. This was produced in many editions and printings as Theosophical Manual IV. The 1905 Third Edition is available at, and the 1959 Sixth Edition is at
  • The Law of Action and Reaction. Adyar, Madras, India: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1944. A lecture delivered at Adyar, in the Theosophical Hall on March 6th, 1910.
  • Man and His Bodies. 2nd edition - London Theosophical Publishing Society, 1900. This was produced in many editions and printings as Theosophical Manual VII.
  • The Masters.
  • Mysticism. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1914.
  • On Moods. London and Benares: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1906. Reprinted from the Theosophical Review, vol. 35, no. 207, November 1904.
  • The Perfect Man. London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1906. Reprinted from the Theosophical Review.
  • The Pilgrimage of the Soul. 1895. Benares: Theosophical Publishing Society; Madras: Theosophist Office, Adyar; London: Theosophical Publishing Society. Pamphlet series; 18.
  • The Secret of Evolution . Harrogate: Theosophical Publishing Committee, 1904. Reprinted from the Theosophical review.
  • The Seven Principles of Man. London, The Theosophical Publishing Society, 1892. Searchable at Hathitrust and available at Sold over 15,000 copies in early printings. The book was originally serialized in Lucifer, August-December 1891.
  • Study and Practice. London: Issued by the Blavatsky Lodge of the Theosophical Society, [1919] A lecture delivered by Mrs. Besant at Mortimer Hall, under the auspices of Blavatsky Lodge of the T.S. in England and Wales on October 3rd, 1919.
  • Theosophy and the New Psychology: A Course of Six Lectures. London: Theosophical Pub. Society; New York: John Lane; Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1904. Available at Hathitrust and

Translations by Annie Besant

  • Havard, Henry. Dead cities of the Zuyder's Zee: a voyage to the picturesque side of Holland. Bently, 1876. Translated from the French by Annie Besant.

Compilations and quotations

  • Daily Meditations on the Path and Its Qualifications: from the Works of Annie Besant. Compiled by E.G. Cooper. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House, 1943. Available at Hathitrust.

Sources of bibliographies


  1. See Annie Besant: The Pearl of the Indian Renaissance by The Masonic Philosophical Society.