Kingsford, Anna Bonus (1846-1888)

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Kingsford, Anna Bonus (1846-1888)

Founder of Esoteric Christianity, which combined insights from Gnosticism, the Sufis, and proponents of spiritual alchemy. She was born Anna Bonus at Stratford, Essex, England, September 16, 1846. Even as a child, she displayed unusual psychic gifts and claimed kinship with fairies, who were said to visit her during sleep. She told fortunes at school and seems to have been something of a seeress.

After her marriage in 1867 to the Reverend Algernon G. Kingsford, an Anglican clergyman, she edited a ladies' journal and conducted a feminist campaign with special emphasis on womanly attributes. She considered masculinity in women degrading. In 1870 she became a Roman Catholic, and ten years later took her medical degree in Paris.

About this time she discovered in Edward Maitland a "twin soul" for her mystical mission. Although platonic, their association resulted in some mischievous gossip. In fact the Maitland and Kingsford families were related by marriage. In 1883, Kingsford became president of the Theosopical Society, and in 1884 Kingsford and Maitland founded the Hermetic Society in Britain for the study of mystical Christianity. While they were innovators in the field of mystical Christianity, their society was largely ineffectual. However, many of their inspired teachings were eventually included in the broad conspectus of Theosophy. Kingsford and Maitland placed a strong emphasis on vegetarianism and opposed experimentation on animals.

It was Kingsford who introduced the magician S. L. MacGregor Mathers to Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Mathers sympathized with the campaign against vivisection, although his occult interests were wider than those of the Theosophical Society. He eventually became a leading figure in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.


Kingsford, Anna Bonus. Clothed with the Sun. London: John M. Watkins, 1889.

Kingsford, Anna, and Edward Maitland. The Perfect Way: or, The Finding of Christ. London, 1882. Rev. ed. London, 1887. Reprint, Boston: Esoteric Book Co., 1988. Reprint, Mokelumne Hill, Calif.: Health Research, 1972.

. The Virgin of the World. 1885. Reprint, Minneapolis: Wizard's Bookshelf, 1977.

Maitland, Edward. Anna Kingsford: Her Life, Letters, Diary. London, 1896.

. The Story of Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland and of the New Gospel of Interpretation. Birmingham, England: Ruskin Press, 1905.

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Kingsford, Anna Bonus (1846-1888)

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Kingsford, Anna Bonus (1846-1888)