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Besant, Annie (1847-1933)

Dublin Core


Besant, Annie (1847-1933)


De Bel, Heather (created stub)

Person Item Type Metadata

Birth Date

1 October 1847



Death Date

20 September 1933


women's rights activist

Biographical Text

Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933), was a British social reformer, woman’s rights activist, spirited advocate of Irish and Indian home rule, and a prominent Theosophist. After meeting free thinker Charles Bradlaugh, she helped him establish the Freethought Publishing Company. The couple invited prosecution under Britain’s Obscene Publications Act of 1857 by reissuing Charles Knowlton's The Fruits of Philosophy (1877), a treatise advocating contraception. With the goal of establishing the right to circulate information on contraception, Besant conducted her own defense, stressing that birth control would help to relieve poverty. Though Besant and Bradlaugh were eventually exonerated, in 1878 Besant published her own booklet, The Law of Population. The booklet was notable for its up-to-date information on contraception, including information on pessaries, the Indian rubber cervical cap, spermicides such as quinine.