British Rebel, Writer, Socialist, Orator, and Theosophist. A daughter of William Wood, a doctor, who died when she was only five years old. Without any savings, her mother was unable to care for Annie and she persuaded a friend, Ellen Marryat, to take responsibility for her upbringing. In 1866 Annie married the Rev. Frank Besant. By the time she was twenty-three they had two children. However, Annie was deeply unhappy because her independent sprit clashed with the traditional views of her husband. She also began to question her religious beliefs. When she refused to attend communion, Frank Besant ordered her to leave the family home. She soon developed a close relationship with Charles Bradlaugh, editor of the radical National Reformer and leader of the secular movement in Britain. In 1877 together they decided to publish The Fruits of Philosophy, Charles Knowlton's book advocating birth control. They were charged with publishing material that was "likely to deprave or corrupt those whose minds are open to immoral influences", found guilty of publishing an "obscene libel" and sentenced to six months in prison. At the Court of Appeal the sentence was quashed. After the court-case she wrote and published her own book advocating birth control entitled The Laws of Population. Besant also join the socialist group, the Fabian Society, and in 1889 contributed to the influencial book, Fabian Essays. As well as Besant, the book included articles by George Bernard Shaw, Sydney Webb etc. Edited by Shaw, the book sold 27,000 copies in two years. In the 1890s Annie Besant became a supporter of Theosophy, a religious movement founded by Madame Blavatsky in 1875. She went to live in India but she remained interested in the subject of women's rights. She continued to write letters to British newspapers arguing the case for women's rights. While in India, Annie joined the struggle for Indian Home Rule. She was imprisoned, and after her release was elected President of the Indian National Congress. She died in India.
Bio by: julia&keld