Funeral of Dr Annie Besant, Madras, India, 1933.
© NMeM / Daily Herald Archive / Science & Society Picture Library
A brief ceremony was held in a Masonic temple at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, Madras (now Chennai), after which the bier was carried by admirers and placed on the pyre ready for cremation. Great tribute was paid to her by the Rt Rev Bishop Leadbeater, and Mr A P Warrington, the vice-president of the Theosophical Society of which Besant was a leading member: 'Dr Besant was regarded in India as one of the World's greatest women.' Besant (1847-1933), a socialist free-thinker, left Britain for India and founded the Central Hindu College at Benares in 1898. She became involved in nationalist politics and in 1916 established the Indian Home Rule League and became its president. She was also president of the Indian National Congress, although disagreed with Gandhi.