Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933) was a prominent Theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self rule. For a time she undertook part-time study at the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution, where her religious and political activities were to cause alarm. She was earning a small weekly wage by writing a column for the National Reformer, the newspaper of the National Secular Society. For many years Annie was a friend of the Society's leader, Charles Bradlaugh. Both of them became household names in 1877 when they published a book by the American birthcontrol campaigner Charles Knowlton. After joining the Marxists, Annie stood for election to the London School Board. In 1889, she was asked to write a review for the Pall Mall Gazette on The Secret Doctrine, a book by H. P. Blavatsky. After reading it, she sought an interview with its author and in this way she was converted to Theosophy. Her works include: The Political Status of Women (1874), The Law of Population (1877), Autobiographical Sketches (1885), Reincarnation (1892), Seven Principles of Man (1892), Death - And After? (1893), Karma (1895) and Esoteric Christianity; or, The Lesser Mysteries (1901/05).