1847-1933. British theosophist and educator. Born in London, she was educated by private tutor and at London University. She was married to the vicar of Sibsey, the Rev. Frank Besant, but it ended in divorce after six years. During her spiritual pilgrimage she moved successively from Anglican to atheist to spiritualist and finally to theosophist. Most of her life after 1889 was spent in India, where she established a number of educational institutions, such as the Central Hindu College of Benares (1898) and the University of India (1907), and even rose to the presidency of the National Congress. She proclaimed her adopted son and spiritual mystic Jidder Krishnamurti the new Messiah, a claim which he later repudiated. A prolific writer of major works on Eastern religion, Mrs. Besant became president of the Theosophical Society upon the death of its founder, Mme. Helena P. Blavatsky. Her major works include The Religious Problems of India, The Wisdom of the Upanishads, The Basis of Morality, and India: Bond or Free?