Alfred Percy Sinnett January 18 , , London - June 26 , was an English author, journalist, and Theosophist , who played an important part in growth of the Theosophical Society during its first generation. His father was a journalist, and his mother a writer who had published numerous books. Alfred's father died when he was only five years old. His widowed mother Jane struggled to sustain three boys and three girls by writing newspaper articles and translations, and by working as a governess. Young Sinnett was admitted to the London University School as a scholarship student, but left it without finishing his studies.
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Alfred Percy Sinnett January 18 , , London - June 26 , was an English author, journalist, and Theosophist , who played an important part in growth of the Theosophical Society during its first generation. His father was a journalist, and his mother a writer who had published numerous books. Alfred's father died when he was only five years old. His widowed mother Jane struggled to sustain three boys and three girls by writing newspaper articles and translations, and by working as a governess.
Young Sinnett was admitted to the London University School as a scholarship student, but left it without finishing his studies. He learned mechanical drawing, and worked briefly as a draftsman until he eventually obtained a position as assistant and sub-editor of The Globe , an evening newspaper. Late in , he accepted the editorship of the "Hong Kong Daily Press," where he worked for three years.
On his return journey, he visited Japan and crossed the United States by stagecoach. Back in London, Sinnett became acquainted with the Edensor family. John's Church, Notting Hill, in London. Sinnett had "long been impressed with the belief that the only way of doing really well in journalism was by getting good editorial appointment in India,"  so he resigned his previous position and left for India, arriving at Allahabad toward the end of the year.
During the years in India, , the Sinnetts had a good income, a pleasant social life, and professional recognition. Generally they lived in Allahabad, where The Pioneer was based, during the cooler months, and in Simla during the hot weather of the summer. In Simla, the couple visited with other British residents and held picnics to enjoy the spectacular scenery.
Sinnett played waltzes and Beethoven sonatas on the piano. On May 16 , , Mrs. Sinnett gave birth to a son, Percy Edensor Sinnett , generally called "Denny". In March, , the family returned to England for a holiday, and Patience, who was expecting a second child, remained in Notting Hill with her mother. On July 14th, the baby was delivered still-born.
In , during a visit to London, Sinnett had become interested in Spiritualism. In , Sinnett read in a newspaper that H. Blavatsky and Col. Olcott have arrived at Bombay. Assuming they were Spiritualists, he wrote them a letter expressing his desire to become acquainted with them, and his willingness to publish any information which they liked to give him about their mission in India. On December 4 of that year the Founders visited Mr and Mrs Sinnett at their house in Allahabad and remained there as their guests for six weeks.
Hume chairing the assembly, and Madame Blavatsky charmed the Sinnetts' friends at dinner parties. Many wonderful phenomena took place at the time, which Mr. Sinnett described in his book The Occult World. Although the phenomena were performed in front of witnesses and in a careful way, Sinnett wanted to design one that could be "really complete in their details and leave no opening for the suggestion even of imposture. In Sinnett's words:. The "Unknown Brother" that answered was the one known as Koot Hoomi , and from this grew a correspondence that took place from to The letters that Sinnett and his friend A.
Hume received were published in under the title The Mahatma Letters to A. Most of the letters were transmitted by psychic means and precipitated by different chelas such as H. Blavatsky , Damodar K. Mavalankar , and others. Sinnett was extremely eager for some kind of immediate personal contact with the Mahatma K. On October 19 , , he received an astral visit by Master K.
The former briefly described in a note the experience as follows:. About four years later William Q. Judge asked Mr. Sinnett about this, and reported the following:. As to why the Mahatmas agreed to enter in correspondence with him and Mr. Hume , the Master K. In addition to the numerous letters to Sinnett that were in his possession, published in The Mahatma Letters to A. Sinnett , one letter has been found at the Adyar headquarters of the Theosophical Society. Soon after Sinnett's meeting with the Founders he established a correspondence with the Mahatmas.
Through this correspondence and his involvement with Theosophy his attitude about the natives and the Indian affairs began to change, becoming more supportive. Sinnett that at the end of his engagement, in November of that year, the newspaper would no longer need his services. Sinnett wrote of Rattigan:.
He had been from the first intensely unsympathetic with my interest in the occult development There was some friction between myself and the new proprietors, but my success as writer had become fairly conspicuous and the friction such as it was would not have been enough to break the tie.
But again both my wife and I had grown tired of the Indian life and wished to be back in England. It seemed just possible that the savings of our time in India, plus journalistic work at home, would enable us to live there in moderate comfort, so that we contemplated my resignation of the Pioneer editorship as a step we might be inclined to take.
The parting therefore was neither strained nor unfriendly, and for many years after my return to England I continued to write articles of various kinds for the paper in India. The Sinnetts were not reluctant to return to England; he wrote that "We had grown very tired of the Anglo-Indian life of empty and frivolous gaiety". After Sinnett was announced that he was going to be dismissed from The Pioneer in , the Master K.
Sinnett in organizing a newspaper called the The Phoenix , supported by Indian capital. This newspaper sought to help in raising the social and economic condition of the Indian masses, their sense of self-respect, and their standing in the eyes of the world. Sinnett left for England hoping to return to India for this project, but after considerable efforts to raise the funds needed the enterprise had to be abandoned for lack of support from the Indians. On September 11, , the Master K.
Sinnett in England, releasing him from his promise not to accept another position of employment. On February 11 , , the Sinnetts left Allahabad on their way to England. At this time he was engaged in writing his new book Esoteric Buddhism. On March 30 the Sinnetts sailed for Europe on the P. Upon his arrival he attracted the interest of the London Spiritualists , members of the Psychical Research Society , and Theosophists such as the Arundales and the Gebhards. At this time, his second book, Esoteric Buddhism , was published.
In autumn , the Lodge separated into two parts, one following Sinnett, the other following Anna Bonus Kingsford. At this time, he made the acquaintance of Charles Webster Leadbeater , an Anglican curate who became interested in Theosophy after having read Esoteric Buddhism. They formed a friendship "which endured the rest of his life. Sinnett became the President of the Lodge in January He conducted the transaction of the lodge "first as a part of the Theosophical Society's work, later more or less separated, and for a while as an independent society.
In the proprietors of The Pioneer decided to establish a London office, a task that was entrusted to Sinnett. He was in charge of this office for a couple of years until the proprietor himself took over. In , Sinnett asked C. Leadbeater to come back to England from Ceylon to tutor his son Denny, now a boy of 12, and George Arundale. Around , he was able to help Leadbeater obtain employment in the London office of The Pioneer.
Sinnett regarded that he maintained his touch with the Master throughout his life. From January to June Sinnett edited a monthly magazine called Broad Views , dealing mostly with current events, sociology, philosophy, and world cultures.
He became Vice President of the Theosophical Society from , and was also in that role from , and from Sinnett, as Vice-President, became invested with the authority of the Presidential office until Annie Besant was elected as the second international President of the Theosophical Society Adyar. On May 11 , , his son Denny died of tubercolosis, at 31 years of age. Sinnett's wife Patience died of cancer the same year, at midnight on November 9 , despite her husband's skillful efforts at mesmeric healing.
After the passing of his beloved Patience, Mr. Sinnett was devastated and sought assistance from psychic Violet Tweedale to get news of his wife from the world beyond. As a diversion in those days, Sinnett picked up a story, "Married by Degrees", that he had published in Broad Views , and turned it into a three-act play.
Maud Hoffman was in the cast, and the play was favorably reviewed, but ultimately lost money. During a series of sittings with a clairvoyant friend, Robert King, from to , Sinnett eventually was able to communicate with Patience, with Koot Hoomi, and others.
He lectured to the Eleusinian Society in , forecasting the First World War and the redistribution of land that followed it, through information received from the White Lodge. During the war years he frequently wrote articles for The Nineteenth Century about the forces at work in the world. Until the end of his life, Sinnett continued to be active in Theosophical Society work.
He wrote, lectured all over England, and conducted the meetings of the revived London Lodge. His close friends, supported by many others collected funds to support him, and presented a large check to him on April 5, in a gathering at Maud Hoffman's house. The annual convention of the Society in England was then in session.
Graham Pole reported:. In addition to his editorial work, Sinnett wrote numerous articles for Theosophical periodicals. The Union Index lists over articles that he submitted or that were reprinted from his books.
It described the occult phenomena produced by Mme. Blavatsky in India.
ALFRED PERCY SINNETT (1840-1921)
Sinnett's father died while he was young, as in Sinnett was listed as a "Scholar — London University", living with his mother Jane, who is listed as a widow and whose occupation is listed as "Periodical Literature"; his older sister Sophia, age 22, was a teacher. Jane's sister Sarah, age 48, was also a teacher. In Sinnett married his wife Patience, probably in the London area. He is listed in the England Census at age 31, as a Journalist, born in Middlesex.
Author:Alfred Percy Sinnett
Theosophical World Resources
Books by Alfred Percy Sinnett