Purucker, Hobart Lorentz Gottfried de(1874-1942)

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Purucker, Hobart Lorentz Gottfried de(1874-1942)

Hobart Lorentz Gottfried de Purucker, a prominent American theosophical author and leader, was the son of a pastor of the German Reformed church. He was born January 15, 1874, in Suffern, New York. He grew up in parsonages in several states and also as a youth lived in Geneva, Switzerland, where his father moved to become chaplain of the American church. He attended the Collège de Genève for a short time but returned to the United States during his eighteenth year. After a period of wandering, he settled in San Diego, California, where he discovered the Theosophical Society. He met the leader of the American Theosophists, William Q. Judge, and became an assistant to Judge's successor, Katherine Tingley. In 1903 Purucker moved to Point Loma, California, where Tingley had established a theosophical community.

Purucker served as Tingley's personal secretary, and in 1911 he assumed additional duties as editor of the Theosophical Path, the group's periodical. His years of work were acknowledged in 1929 when he succeeded Tingley as head of the society. He soon began a second periodical, the Theosophical Forum. He also took over Tingley's role as spokesperson of the society and began to give public lectures, which were later collected into some of his more popular books. The early 1930s were his most productive literary period. He completed Questions We All Ask (1930-31); Theosophy and Modern Science (1930); Golden Precepts of Esotericism (1931); Fundamentals of Esoteric Philosophy (1932); and The Esoteric Tradition (1935).

World War II presented a significant challenge to the community at Point Loma, which was located on Pacific coastal property adjacent to a major U.S. naval facility. The location was a vulnerable position should Japanese forces reach the West Coast, which many felt to be a real possibility at the time. That threat and the financial problems being experienced by the group led Purucker to close the community and sell the site. He died September 27, 1942, just a few weeks after new headquarters were established in Covina, California.

Following his death, the society published a variety of Purucker's writings, including Studies in Occult Philosophy (1945) and Dialogues with G. de Purucker (1948). Purucker's work is not very well known, because the branch of the society over which he presided has dwindled in size through the last half of the twentieth century.


Purucker, Gottfried de. Dialogues with G. de Purucker. 3 vols. Covina, Calif.: Theosophical University Press, 1948.

. The Esoteric Tradition. 2 vols. Point Loma, Calif.: Theosophical University Press, 1935.

. Fundamentals of Esoteric Philosophy. London: Rider,1932.

. Questions We All Ask. 4 vols. Covina, Calif.: Theosophical University Press, 1930-31.