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Annie Besant and Herbert Burrows
Annie Besant
Annie Besant

Annie Besant (1847-1933) joined the National Secular Society in the 1870s and became a journalist on the National Reformer. She also became secretary of the Malthusian League and was prosecuted, along with Charles Bradlaugh, for the publication of works on birth control. In the 1880s, she became a Socialist and joined firstly, the Fabian Society and then in 1888, the Social Democratic Federation. In 1888 she founded with another radical journalist, W. T. Stead, the Law and Liberty League and its journal 'The Link', in which she campaigned on behalf of the match workers' strike. The same year, she was also elected to the London School Board. From 1889, she became interested in theosophy, whose basic concepts were based on Hinduism, and became president of the Theosophical Society from 1907 until her death. She settled in India in the 1890s and became active in the cause of Indian nationalism and Home Rule. However, she visited England frequently and was known as an outstanding public speaker at trade union, socialist and women's suffrage meetings.

Dictionary of Labour Biography: volume IV [pp21-31]; ed. by J. Bellamy and J. Saville. Macmillan, 1977.

Herbert Burrows (1845-1921) had a longstanding friendship with Annie Besant, whom he first met in 1879. He was a founder member of the Social Democratic Federation and wrote for the newspaper Justice. After the match workers' strike, he remained as treasurer of the Matchmakers' Union and helped to organise the London dock workers' strike in 1889. He was also a prominent theosophist and, with Besant, edited a glossary of theosophical terms.

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