Francesca Arundale

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Francesca Arundale was an early member of the Theosophical Society, and a close friend of H. P. Blavatsky and Annie Besant.

Personal life

Miss Arundale was born in Brighton, England, in 1847. She lived for some years in Germany.

Theosophical Society involvement

In 1881 she became a member of the Theosophical Society (Adyar). In 1902 she moved to Adyar, Chennai, India, and was active in the Varanasi (formerly Benares) branch of the T. S. She died in India on March 23, 1924.

Miss Arundale was very well-regarded by the early Theosophists, and frequently entertained them at her home. Henry Steel Olcott wrote her warm, newsy letters addressing her as "St. Theresa" and "best of grandmothers."[1]

George S. Arundale, her great-nephew and adopted son, became succeeded Annie Besant as the third president of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).

Mahatma Letters

Miss Arundale was the recipient of a letter from Mahatma Koot Hoomi in July 1884, which has been published by the Blavatsky Archives.


In 1896 she became a member of the International Order of Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain. She also participated when Annie Besant formed the first London Lodge of the order in 1902.

Miss Arundale in India

Clara Codd, who met her at the Benares convention in 1910, wrote,

She was a little round robin of a lady, very precise in her ways, with large spectacles and her grey hair done up on the top of her head. She always wore coats and skirts, while many of the members followed Mrs. Besant's example and donned the Indian sari. I was sitting one day with a group of the members thus attired for the most part, when Miss Arundale came along.

"Miss Arundale," impulsively ejaculated one, "why don't you wear saris like our President?"

Misd Arundale replied in her precise little voice: "Well, my dear, when I have succeeded in emulating our great President in her virtues I think it wlll be time for me to copy her dress."[2]


Miss Arundale wrote several books and many articles. The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists 48 articles by or about her. She wrote an account of her friendship with H. P. Blavatsky, My Guest, H.P. Blavatsky. It was published in 1932 at the Theosophical Publishing House in Adyar.

She also wrote:

  • Education in the Light of Theosophy, Adyar, Madras, India: Vasanta Press, 1913.
  • The Idea of Re-birth, with Karl Heckel, London: K. Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1890.
  • "Psychism and Spirituality," a series of articles in The Beacon, 1922.
  • Intuitional Consciousness #69 in the Adyar Pamphlets series, published in September 1916. It is available online at Canadian Theosophical Association.
  • Idea of Rebirth Including a Translation of an Essay on Re-incarnation
  • "Record of Some Phenomena Transcribed from the original in the Archives of the Society for Psychical Research." Narrative available at Blavatsky Archives, with the introduction, "A portion of this narrative was quoted in Proceedings of the S.P.R. (London), Volume III, 1885, pp. 387-388. This online edition is reprinted by permission of the Society for Psychical Research, London."

For a list of articles written by and about Miss Arundale, see Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals


  1. H. S. Olcott to Francesca Arundale, December 31, 1881. Published in "Letters of H. S. Olcott to Francesca Arundale," The Theosophist 53.12 (September, 1932), 727-735.
  2. Clara Codd, So Rich a Life (Pretoria: Institute for Theosophical Publicity, 1956), 173.