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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Hardinge-Britten, Emma

(1823-1899). Notable writer on spiritualist subjects and one time member of the Theosophical Society (TS). Although born in England she spent some of her life in the United States, mainly in New York. In 1856 she attended a spiritualist séance which produced phenomena that served to convince her that claims made by spiritualists were valid. A short time later Hardinge-Britten discovered that she was herself a medium.

Hardinge-Britten came to public attention when she announced that the mail steamer Pacific had sunk in mid-Atlantic with all on board. She claimed to have received this information from a drowned crew member. The owners of the vessel threatened to prosecute her but she was eventually proved right and the ship was never heard of again. Following this incident she became a prominent writer and speaker for the Spiritualist movement. She returned to England in 1866 and there wrote Modern American Spiritualism (New York, 1870).

In 1870 Hardinge-Britten married Dr. W. Britten. In 1878 they both went to New Zealand to work for Spiritualism and stayed there for several years. It was in new Zealand that she wrote her book, Faiths, Facts and Frauds of Religious History. She published an important work in 1876 in New York entitled Art Magic; or Mundane, Sub-Mundane and Super Mundane Spiritism. Britten claimed that this work was dictated to her by an Adept called Chevalier Louis. It is a curious coincidence that this book dealt with some subjects which occur in much greater detail in Helena P. BLAVATSKY’s Isis Unveiled. Henry Olcott discusses Britten’s book at some length in Old Diary Leaves (Vol. I, ch. XII).

For some reason which remains obscure, Britten chose to attack Blavatsky and even went to the length of suggesting that Baron de PALM had written Isis Unveiled, a claim that is quite untenable. Since Blavatsky was on record disputing some of the claims of the Spiritualists, this may account for Britten’s enmity.

P.S.H.

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