Annie Besant

Masonic Biographies

Annie Besant

Born: Friday, 01 October 1847
Died: Wednesday, 20 September 1933


Annie Wood Besant was an advocate for the advancement of Humanity, specifically in her roles as writer, orator, politician, Theosophist, and Freemason.


Perhaps the most well-known female freemason in modern history, Brother Annie Wood Besant labored zealously for all of humanity. She was a prolific writer, influential orator, prominent theosophist, persuasive advocate, and strident political activist. In the 1870s, Annie Besant served as co-editor of the publication, National Reformer, which advocated for political ideas considered progressive for the time, including: the advancement of worker's rights, nationalized education, trade unions, birth control, and women's suffrage. In her effort to improve working conditions, Besant supported and organized several workers' demonstrations, which led to significant improvements in the working conditions of women employed in London.

Despite having spent many years as an atheist, Annie Besant's beliefs changed when she became interested in Theosophy, a religious movement founded in 1875. The Theosophical Society was created to join together seekers of Truth who endeavored to promote brotherhood and serve humanity - a mission which called her to venture where few had gone before. Continuing on this path of service, Annie Besant traveled to Paris in 1902, accompanied by six friends interested in becoming Freemasons. There Besant was initiated, passed, and raised in Respectable Loge, located in Paris, France. Freemasonry was a logical extension of her life's work to promote the rights of women and improve the brotherhood of all mankind.

In 1906, Brother Besant helped to bring Co-Masonry to England, founding Emulation Lodge No. 6 in London. Through dedication and hard work, Besant rose to the 33rd Degree of Ancient Freemasonry, joined the Supreme Council, and became Most Puissant Grand Commander. In an address delivered in 1909, she explained the importance of initiating both men and women as equals in Freemasonry stating "Co-Masonry has arisen from the bosom of Masculine Masonry in order to bring women into that ancient fraternity on exactly the same terms as men, and thus to restore the whole Brotherhood to the position from which it fell, when it broke its link with the Ancient Mysteries by excluding women from its rank."

After migrating to India, Brother Besant also became involved in the Indian nationalist movement. In 1916, Annie established the Indian Home Rule League and was a leading member of the Indian National Congress. While Brother Annie Besant died in 1933 in Adyar, India at the age of eighty-five, her legacy of service and vision of Freemasonry's true potential continues on as an influence in Universal Co-Masonry - lighting the way towards the perfection of Humanity

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