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Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna (31 July 1831–08 May 1891), major occult writer and cofounder of the Theosophical Society, was born Helena de Hahn in Ekaterinoslav (later Dnepropetrovsk) in the Ukraine, the daughter of Colonel Peter Hahn and Helena Pavlovna Fadeev. Both parents were of aristocratic stock. Her father, of German descent, was an artillery officer, and her mother was a popular novelist whose stories inevitably turned on the sufferings of women at the hands of callous men. Much of Helena’s childhood was spent on the estates of her maternal grandfather, a provincial governor. Helena was a strong-willed, imaginative child who would sometimes hide from household members for hours and on other occasions make up exceedingly elaborate stories....