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Bailey, Alice Anne La Trobe-Bateman (16 June 1880–15 December 1949), founder of a spiritual movement growing out of the Theosophical tradition, was born in Manchester, England, the daughter of Frederic Foster La Trobe-Bateman, a prosperous engineer and member of a socially prominent family, and Alice Hollinshead. She spent major parts of her early life in Canada and Switzerland because of her father’s work. Her mother died when she was six; her father, when she was nine; thereafter she lived on the estate of her grandfather John Frederic La Trobe-Bateman, a wealthy and very well known engineer. She was unhappy as a child, despite mystical tendencies. Her religious upbringing was in the conservative evangelical wing of the Church of England. After finishing school at eighteen, she worked from 1899 to 1907 for the Young Women’s Christian Association in a ministry to British troops, which included delivering highly evangelical sermons, first in Ireland and then in India. She met her future husband, Walter Evans, then a soldier, in India. They were married in 1907 in Britain. She then went with him to the United States, where he studied for the Episcopal priesthood in Cincinnati. After his ordination in 1910, they moved to Reedley, California, where he was given a church. They had three daughters. The marriage was not a success, however, and in 1915 they separated, divorcing in 1919. Alice retained custody of the children....

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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....

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Tingley, Katherine Augusta Westcott (06 July 1847–11 July 1929), founder of the utopian Point Loma Theosophical community in San Diego, California, was born in Newbury, Massachusetts, the daughter of James P. L. Westcott, a lumber merchant and later hotel keeper, and Susan Ordway Chase. Little is known of Tingley’s early life, save that she attended a Congregational church and was married twice (to Richard Henry Cook in 1867, divorced after two months, and to George W. Parent around 1880, divorced after several years) before marrying Philo Tingley in 1888. At one point she may have acted with a stock company; in any case, she had a flair for the dramatic, and drama was a strong interest of hers. She also became interested in Spiritualism....