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Red Cactus: The Life of Anna Kingsford Paperback – 2007

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Editorial Reviews

Anna Kingsford was an Englishwoman of many accomplishments: mystic, prophet, doctor, women's activist, vegetarian, and writer. She was president of the London Lodge of the British Theosophy Society in 1883 and formed the Hermetic Society in 1884. Her books The Perfect Way and Clothed With the Sun are classics of mystical thought. Anna's name appears in studies of the women's movement in the second half of the nineteenth century in England. She has a prominent place in the history of vegetarianism and action against vivisection. She figures in medical history as among the pioneer women who gained qualifications in a male profession. Her place is assured as a mystic and proponent of esoteric Christianity. This book contains the startling new revelation that Maitland, Anna's co-worker and biographer, wrote many lies about her. He turned against her and systematically besmirched her reputation. His greatest outrage was to write that she killed two French vivisectors by mind power. Red Cactus shows this and many other accusations by Maitland are false. Anna Kingsford's reputation is now restored and her true greatness can receive just recognition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Books & Writers; 2nd edition (2007)
  • ISBN-10: 174018405X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1740184052
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,642,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Casca on April 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
Anna Kingsford was born in England in 1846. She was the youngest of 12 children, the father being John Bonus a wealthy shipowner.Anna had poems published from the age of nine and a novel at sixteen.To bypass family opposition,she eloped with Algernon Kingsford, a theology student, in 1867. They married on Anna's condition that she be free to follow her own career.When Algernon became a vicar, she sometimes wrote sermons for him. Anna wrote articles and stories promoting the rights of women. Her interest in health matters led her in 1874 to study medicine in Paris, as women at the time were barred from qualifying as doctors in England. After graduating as a doctor of medicine in 1880 she set up practice in London. Anna deeply studied spiritual matters, and in 1882 published 'The Perfect Way,' an erudite study of mysticism and esoteric Christianity. As a result she was invited to become president of the British Theosophical
Society in 1883. Due to disagreements with H.P.Blavatsky and Alfred Sinnett over the alleged theosophical hidden masters, Anna quit as president and formed the Hermetic Society with her co-worker Edward Maitland. Anna was a passionate opponent of vivisection and a supporter of vegetarianism. She lectured and wrote ardently for these causes.She was afflicted by TB in 1887 and died early in 1888 at the age of 41.Aleister Crowley wrote that she did more for religion than anyone else in centuries. Mahatma Gandhi acknowledged her influence in his autobiography. Pert is the first to show that Edward Maitland's biography of Anna (1896)contains serious misinformation about her. The worst charge Maitland made was that Anna killed two French vivisectors by black magic. Pert exposes this and other false claims made against Anna. Before Maitland died he burnt Anna's letters, diaries and papers which she had left to him in her will. Despite this catastrophic loss, Pert has done a commendable job in assembling the available information in a readable style.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
According to the back cover of the book, this is an 'accurate biography of the amazing Englishwoman, Anna Kingsford (1846-1888), She accomplished much of lasting value in her life, tragically cut short of consumption.'

Hmm. This is less 'an accurate biography' of Anna Kingsford than it is an uncritical hagiography. This is a pity, for while I have no interest in hermetic philosophy and mysticism, I like to read about interesting women regardless of their fields of achievement.

No doubt, this book will be of interest to those interested in Ms Kingsford's mystical works and those who choose to honour her for 'her promotion of vegetarianism and animal welfare, and her courage in exposing cant and hypocrisy in a repressive age'. It may also be of interest to those seeking examples of published hyperbole.

In summary, I finished it because I started it. I cannot recommend it.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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