BLAVATSKY, HELENA PETROVNA: Theosophist; b. at Ekaterinoslav (250 m. n.e. of Odessa), Russia, July 31 (O. S.), 1831; d. in London May 8, 1891. Supposed to have been the child of a Russian officer named Peter Hahn, she married, at the age of seventeen, a Russian official, Nicephore Blavatsky, from whom she separated after a very few months. For the next twenty years her life was a wandering one, mixed with spiritualism and similar cults. During this time she visited Paris, Cairo, New Orleans, Tokyo, and Calcutta, and she claimed to have resided for seven years in Tibet, whence she pretended to draw the mysteries of theosophy (q.v.). In 1858 she started a spiritualistic movement in Russia, and in 1873 was again in the United States. In 1875 she founded at New York, in collaboration with Col. Henry Steel Olcott, the Theosophical Society. Her chief works, which have run through repeated editions and have been translated into many languages, both in Europe and India, are Isis Unveiled : The Master Key to Ancient and Modern Mysteries, the standard text-book of the Theosophists (2 vols., New York, 1877); Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy (2 vols., 1888); Voice of the Silence (1889); Key to Theosophy, in the Form of Question and Answer (1889); and the posthumous From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan (1892; originally contribute to the Russian Russky Vyestnik); Nightmare Tales (London, 1892) Theosophical Glossary (1892); and Modern Panarion Collection of Fugitive Fragments (1899).
Bibliography: E. Coulomb, Some Account of my Intercourse with Madame Blavatsky from 1872 to 1884, London, 1885; A. P. Sinnett, Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky, ib. 1886; C. Wachtmeister, Reminiscences of H. P. Blavataky and "the Secret Doctrine," ib. 1893; A. Lillie, Madame Blavatsky and her "Theosophy": A Study, ib. 1895; V. S. Solovyoff, Modern Priestess of Isis, from the Russian, by W. Leaf, ib. 1895 (an exposé); H. Freimark, Helena Petrovna Blavatzky, Leipsic, 1907.