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Annie Besant (1847-1933), British socialist, theosophist and women's rights activist. After her marriage ended in 1873, Besant spoke for the National Secular Society (NSS), and advocated birth control. She became involved with union actions including the Bloody Sunday demonstration and the London matchgirls strike of 1888. In 1890 Besant met Helena Blavatsky and became a member of the Theosophical Society. She travelled to India, campaigned for Home Rule and democracy there, and in 1917 was elected president of the Indian National Congress. In the late 1920s, Besant travelled to the United States with her adopted son Jiddu Krishnamurti, who she believed was the new Messiah and incarnation of Buddha. She continued to campaign on social and political issues until her death.
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