Ellen Sophie Gaskell née Atkins was initiated into the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn at its Isis-Urania temple on 20 March 1897 and took the Latin motto ‘Vox et praeterea nihil’. Three other people were initiated as part of the same ritual - Frederick Clarence Ritchie, Edith Jermyn Beaufort and Laura Gertrude Love, though I don’t think Ellen necessarily knew any of them beforehand.
The GD was not the first secret organisation that Ellen had joined. She had actually founded a secret association a few years before. Perhaps she found it impossible to find time to do both groups justice. She certainly was far more committed to the aims of the association she had founded. Ellen never followed up her GD initiation and doesn’t seem to have attended many, if any, subsequent rituals.
Ellen’s husband George Arthur Gaskell was just as interested in esoteric ideas as she was, and it’s a puzzle to me why he never joined the GD. I imagine that he was offered the opportunity; but perhaps he decided, like Ellen, that western magic was not for him.
Ellen was the younger daughter of George Atkins and his wife Miriam Elizabeth Timpson. I could not find out anything much about George Atkin’s youth or family except that he was born in Lewisham around 1820. I know a little bit more about Miriam: she was born in September 1820 in the parish of Cripplegate, City of London, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth. She told census officials over several decades that she’d been born in Birmingham, so she may have grown up there rather than in London.
George Atkins had qualified as a solicitor and was working in London when he and Miriam married, in Lewisham, in 1849. They lived at George Place in Lewisham Village for the first few years of their marriage and their children Alfred and Clare were born there, in 1850 and 1852. However, between 1852 and their daughter Delia Elizabeth’s birth in 1854, the family moved to Aston on the outskirts of Birmingham. Perhaps family contacts of Miriam’s were able to offer George a better job there than he was likely to get in London. He may have been the ‘Atkins’ of the solicitors’ firm Snow and Atkins whose offices in the late 1870s were in Ann Street (renamed Colmore Row when Council House Square now known as Victoria Square was built). The firm was still in practice in 1906 and possibly later.
Ellen Sophie Atkins was born in 1855 while the family was living in Aston; her younger brothers Frederick (1856) and Gilbert (1857) were also born there. Then the family moved to the south side of Birmingham where the next son, Ion, was born. In 1861 the Atkins were living at 2 Belgrave Place, Belgrave Road Edgbaston. George and Miriam’s youngest child Joseph had been born a few days before census day that year - a lying-in nurse was part of the Atkins household on census day, along with their one general servant. Joseph died after only a couple of months so Ellen - aged six - might not have ever remembered him; but in 1869 she will have felt the death of her older brother Clare (he was a boy not a girl apparently) at the age of 16 and it’s possible that brother Frederick also died young as I can’t find any trace of him after census day 1871.
By the time of Clare’s death the family had moved again, to Worcestershire; perhaps they had moved there in search of better health for the boy. On the day of the census 1871 they were living at 20 Ladypool Lane King’s Norton. Alfred was now working and training in the office of an engineering firm. Although Delia was described on the 1871 census form as still having lessons I think this might be a mistake by the census official as Ellen - a year or two younger - was not so described. I think that by 1871 Delia and Ellen’s lessons - whatever they had consisted of - were over for good, and that they were helping their mother run the household, so that the expense of a servant could be dispensed with. Employing even the one maid-of-all-work was a mark of social status, as well as a great convenience for the household, and the lack of any servant living in the Atkins household in 1871 gives me the impression that George Atkins’ income was uncertain and his family were having to be very careful with their expenses.
By the day of the 1881 census, George and Miriam Atkins had moved back to Aston and were living in 119 Conybere Street. Delia was still living at home and so were Gilbert and Ion, both of whom were working by now, Gilbert as a lithographer and draughtsman, Ion as a managing clerk in a solicitor’s firm, presumably the one his father also worked for or was a partner in. The family was employing a general servant once more, now three sets of wages were coming in. I couldn’t find Ellen at all on the 1881 census so she must have been abroad. She was now 26, and it’s possible she had gone away to have some training, or some more training, as a singer.
I’ve found two references to Ellen as a singer, a soprano. They are a news item about her marriage; and a remark she made herself in an article she wrote about diet and health. If you wanted to read it that way, the fact that she knew Charles Santley could also be a reference. Charles Santley was one of the best-known British baritones of the 19th-century, touring frequently from the 1850s to the 1890s to sing opera and oratorio; so that Ellen could have heard him many times at concerts, from her childhood onwards. Actually being acquainted with this famous singer was a bit different though. It’s possible Ellen took lessons with him - from the 1890s, as his stage career finally began to wind down, he did take pupils; but perhaps it’s more likely that they just met through mutual, musically-inclined friends. However they became acquainted, Ellen knew Santley well enough to ask him for advice on how he kept his voice and throat prepared to sing.
It’s clear from Ellen’s writings of the mid-1890s that she had managed to obtain a musical training beyond that which most middle-class women of her time could expect: she knew some harmonic theory. However, I haven’t been able to find any other references in books, magazines or newspapers to Ellen as a singer and she never described herself as such to any census official. I’ve come to two cautious conclusions about this lack of information: that Ellen sang mostly at private parties, not on concert platforms; and that she may not have been paid for her singing. Ellen was serious about her musical career and did her best to overcome handicaps she knew were holding her back in it; but she was never a famous singer and perhaps never seriously expected to become one.
Ellen’s mother Miriam died in 1886 and her father George in 1887 and it’s likely (though I can’t prove it) that Ellen didn’t live with any of her family from this time on: not for her the life led by her sister Delia, of keeping house for her brothers in the Birmingham suburbs. Neither parent seems to have had much money to leave their children and I wonder how Ellen managed, financially, after that time, if she didn’t charge for her singing; although you could, and some GD members did, manage to survive in the 1880s and 1890s on an income that to us would seem miniscule. Ellen did earn or inherit enough money to spend two years between the beginning of 1890 and the end of 1892 in the USA; she was in America on census day 1891. She spent part of those two years in St Louis and it was there that she came across the concept of colour-music. Her study of the connection between light and music continued for many years. So sure did she become that colour and musical tone held the key to the future of humanity, that she decided it was her life’s work to alert people to their importance and to prepare them for the coming of a new life based on them: an era of true equality between the sexes and of release from the dominance of the body over the soul.
MUSIC AND COLOUR
Different colours and different musical notes are now known to be the way humans experience different wavelengths of electromagnetism. The idea that sound and light might be vibrations from different points along the same continuum goes back to Pythagoras’ experiments with lyre and monochord; and forward through Newton’s Opticks and his Principia Mathematica to the mathematical-physics of quantum theory. It’s still an important study within music. Other lines of descent from Pythagoras led to the concept of music as an art of healing; and to the works of Robert Fludd and the Rosicrucians - a blend of science and mysticism.
Ellen’s pamphlet The Secret of Happiness was printed by the Women’s Printing Society Ltd of 66 Whitcomb Street London WC late in 1894; at her own expense. Its subject was two connected beliefs that were quite widely held in occult circles, and to which Ellen returned to in later articles. Firstly, that the Divine Spirit in each human was being starved in the modern world. And secondly, that the body was “only a Passing-Note” (as Ellen put it), of little importance in the longer term; it was the Spirit that was important and would endure. If you believed in these two arguments, it was clear to you that Man’s priorities in the late 19th-century were wrong: the focus on the material world only, and the neglect of the spirit, were causing all the modern world’s ills. There’s plenty of late 19th-century writing along those lines, including some by other members of the GD. Writers in this vein usually had particular points that they wanted to make - areas of spiritual neglect that they wanted to draw their readers’ attention to - and Ellen, too, added to the basic argument a couple of twists of her own. Firstly she thought that the ills of the body were currently being treated incorrectly by doctors who didn’t believe in the existence of the soul or spirit - by which she meant by the use of “drugs, operating knives and vivisecting horrors”. And secondly, she was sure that if people would only nourish their Spirit with colour and music, mankind would be able to make the next step in evolution, to a higher level of cosmic understanding.
Other themes Ellen aired in The Secret of Happiness were not widely held, even in esoteric circles, but they were at the core of the work she now felt she must do, in moving humanity on from materialism. Ellen felt that the Spirit needed liberating, that it had become imprisoned in the body; and that the concept of Love had become debased by the emphasis on sex, so that true union between man and woman had become impossible. It was also impossible while women were not acknowledged as equal; equal but different. Ellen’s work was to free the Spirit by getting mankind to give up sexual union and replace it with a more lasting and fulfilling relationship - the union of Spirit with Spirit, with man and woman on equal but different terms.
Although a lot of Ellen’s arguments in The Secret of Happiness were couched in Christian terms, her idea that “now there is coming the revelation of God as Woman” was definitely not Christian orthodoxy. In the new era Ellen was wanting to bring about, man and woman would worship the Mother-Father, not the Father and Son. Ellen was sure from the evidence she saw about her that Woman was awakening after a long sleep in a world dominated by man and rationality. Woman, Ellen wrote, was preparing herself for “a great, universal Spring clean” of mankind which would end with a “loss of individuality in this world” and create the conditions for the union of Spirit with Spirit. It would be through colour that woman would be revealed as her true self, and the new era of true equality would begin - perhaps very soon.
Ellen ended her pamphlet with two songs, which were perhaps a battle-cry for the secret association she founded to help her do her spring-cleaning: a Hymn of Life; and The Name Whereby We Shall be Saved, A Hymn to Jehovah “Mother-Father Wonderful”.
The Secret of Happiness might have been by way of a prelude to a much larger book Ellen was working on in the mid-1890s, called The Key of David (Revelations 3:7) Revealing the Motherhood of God. Apparently, the book was going to explain the revelation by tabulating a series of correspondences, equating the seven musical notes of the scale of A-minor (which is known as the Key of David) with: the seven colours; the seven days of the creation myth in Genesis; the messages in Revelations; and several other sets of seven. Ellen was going to argue that the evil in the world was the result of mankind’s misunderstanding of those correspondences. Correspondences, of course, are part of the bedrock of western magic. I don’t know how far Ellen got with the Motherhood of God book; it was never published as far as I can see. Perhaps Ellen was waylaid by the practical details of starting a new social movement: that sort of thing does take time.
The secret association Ellen founded does seem to have remained more or less a secret: I have found two passing references to its existence around 1893-95, soon after it was formed; but nothing else. The references were both in music magazines published in America. Though her secret group was meant to operate in England, Ellen wrote several times over the next few years that she expected the new era she was working towards to show itself in the USA first, and she was doing her best to recruit American members. She must have sent some kind of prospectus of her new association to both magazines, together with either the full text of another book she was working on - not the David book - or a detailed synopsis of it. The secret association was called the Motherhood of Music Association. Although she deplored the current emphasis on sex, Ellen also shared the contemporary view that motherhood was woman’s highest calling, and saw herself and her co-workers in the association, as being the mothers of the new era-to-be.
In her prospectus, Ellen said that the Motherhood of Music Association would be holding meetings at the Ladies’ Own Tea Association shop and tea rooms, on the second floor of 90 New Bond Street. It would be very interesting to know how many women turned up at the meetings; and how many of those who did turn up were members of the GD. The Association was to be a secret, core group of women workers for spiritual and evolutionary change. However, Ellen also invited readers of The Secret of Happiness to contact her at the Musical Exchange, a recently-founded club for musicians at 16 George Street Hanover Square; and to join a Society with no particular rules, which was to have a rather wider reach and be more public. She was having a membership brooch designed in the form of a treble clef with three notes in the corresponding colours she had explained in The Secret of Happiness. And she hoped to found branches of the society in the USA, New Zealand and Australia, through which the work of spiritual spring-cleaning would be begun, world-wide.
I couldn’t find any evidence that the Motherhood of Music Association ever got further towards the fulfilment of Ellen’s aims than just being a chance for like-minded women to meet. But then, its work was on the astral level (if you like to think of it that way) not the material one. Not so visible to the historian.
In 1895, just at the time when Ellen’s new social movement should have been getting established,
something happened to her that I would imagine she had ceased to hope for. She got married, to George Arthur Gaskell. For some years at least, her life ran on two parallel but hugely different lines - one messianic, one very domestic; with theosophy added to the mix - already pretty rich - of Ellen’s thinking on Christianity and music-colour theory.
GEORGE ARTHUR GASKELL
George Gaskell was born in 1843, the eldest son of Peter Gaskell and his wife Sarah, née Sherlock. Both his parents’ families came from Lancashire. Peter Gaskell did not work, he lived on the proceeds of houses and offices rented out. George and his seven siblings grew up in suburban Liverpool and north Wales before moving south, first to Hastings and - by census day 1871 - to Camberwell in south London, where Peter Gaskell died in September 1872. His widow and those of her children who were still living at home went to live in Brighton.
George Gaskell was already working as an artist at the time his father died. It has been hard to find out anything much about his career in art; partly because he seems to have exhibited very few paintings, and partly because he has the same name as, and was a contemporary of, Professor George A Gaskell, the American teacher of calligraphy and the history of writing. I would particularly like to know where Ellen’s George Gaskell did his artist’s training; because, depending on which art school he went to (if he went to one) he might have met several future members of the GD.
Until his marriage George Gaskell moved around quite a bit. He lived in Bradford in the mid-1880s and in Edinburgh in the early 1890s. Both of those towns would have a GD temple founded in them and though he may not have met any future GD members in Bradford, he certainly met some in Edinburgh because he was a member of the Theosophical Society by then, and so was almost everyone who joined the GD in Edinburgh. It seems very likely that Ellen met GD members through George Gaskell and I say again that it’s odd that she joined the Order but not him.
George Gaskell first joined the TS in April 1890. He let that application drop for some reason, only to apply a second time, about a year later, with two sponsors who were well-known TS members - G R S Mead and W R Old. George became a member of the TS’s Blavatsky Lodge, which consisted of Mead, Old and other close associates of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. He stayed a member of the TS through the power struggle between W Q Judge and Annie Besant, after Blavatsky’s death; during which so many members left; and he was willing to sponsor Ellen’s membership application to the TS in 1898, after Annie Besant had won; only to resign again for good this time, in 1904.
When exactly Ellen Atkins and George Gaskell met I don’t know. Both their families had connections with south London and they might have known each other since they had been children. It’s more likely, though, that they did not become acquainted until Ellen returned from her time living in the USA - around 1892 - all fired-up with music-colour theory and its chances of changing the world.
I’m fairly sure that it was George Gaskell who introduced Ellen to theosophy and the eastern philosophy on which it was based. The argument of The Secret of Happiness was put forward in strictly western terms; perhaps Ellen had already finished it when she got to know her future husband well. However, an article that was published in The Theosophist in November 1894 showed Ellen attempting to weld together her Christian beliefs, her ideas on music-colour theory; and the eastern idea of cosmic cycles of history, which had reached the west through theosophy. In the article she argued that “some great crisis” was expected shortly by “all classes of thinkers”, and she included herself amongst these thinkers, on the grounds that she was one of the few people who had developed what she called their “7th sense”, a “purely spiritual” sense, sufficiently to see what was coming. After the crisis was over, with several historical cycles ending at the same time, that era would begin which Ellen was working for.
LIFE WITH GEORGE
Ellen Sophie Atkins and George Arthur Gaskell were married in Brighton - where most of his family still lived - in 1895. Having started off their married life in Brighton (I think), they then lived for about four years in a flat in London - number 1 West End Mansions, which was a purpose-built block on West End Lane in the centre of West Hampstead. That was their address when Ellen joined the GD in 1897 and they were still there on census day 1901; though soon afterwards they left for 4 Castle Hill in Hastings before moving back to Brighton before 1904, to 68 Ditchling Road. On census day 1901 the Gaskells were sharing their six-roomed flat with George’s widowed sister Alice Mansell. Alice told the census official she was an artist, although I haven’t found any evidence of pictures by her, either in the normal reference books or on the web. With both her husband and her sister-in-law working at their art, and apparently no money to afford servants - or at least no wish to spend the money they had on hired help - the burden of housework and cookery fell on Ellen; who wrote an article about how much better-able she was to take on these heavy and time-consuming tasks now, than she had been in the past.
There’s nothing much new under the sun! An edited version of Ellen’s article on how and what she cooked these days was published in an American magazine in March 1898 under the headline ‘Super-cooked food’: not quite ‘supercook’, or ‘super food’; but nearly there! The article excited so much interest that four variations of it saw the light of day between autumn 1897 and spring 1898 - the very time when Ellen was involved with the GD. Longer versions with more practical detail appeared in the English papers English Mechanic and World of Science and the Weekly Times and Echo; and different, shorter, versions were published in the American Vegetarian Society’s magazine Food, Home and Garden and in Good Housekeeping.
To the readers of the English Mechanic.. Ellen explained that after years of ill-health which normal medicine had not really cured, she had made radical changes to the way she ate: both what she ate, and how she prepared it. As part of the changes, she had read a great many recent books and articles on diet and health; and she had also asked around for advice, which is where Charles Santley comes in. Because not only were Ellen’s health problems debilitating and depressing, they were hampering her career in music - she had had for years a tendency to catch feverish colds that took a long time to clear up and affected her voice.
Ellen didn’t slavishly adopt all the advice contained in her reading: using herself as a guinea-pig she tried it out and discarded quite a lot of it, before reaching a diet and cooking method that made continual ill-health a thing of the past. They gave other benefits too: Ellen had more energy; and she also had more time. This was all happening (I think) at the time when she was deeply immersed in music-colour theory; the years when she met and married George Gaskell; and the months that she was involved with the GD. It was a period when virtually all her previous understanding of life was jettisoned - heady stuff.
Ellen began her dietary experiments by giving up meat and in 1897 she was still a vegetarian. However, although eating no meat improved her overall health, she was still catching those flu-ey colds, so more experimentation was necessary. For a while, she lived on fruit and nuts and nothing else - not even salt, which she had abandoned on the advice of a Mrs Wallace (whom I haven’t been able to identify) who thought it was dangerous, and of Charles Santley, who told Ellen salt harmed his throat. The fruitarian diet got rid of the colds altogether but Ellen soon found it had serious disadvantages: it cost a lot and was very inconvenient when she was away from home; she also found herself craving bread, and salt (as well she might). Rather reluctantly, she started eating cereals and vegetables again - but the resulting meals were bland, she often felt physically weak and was always cold; and back came the flu-ey colds. At this frustrating and rather depressing point, around the summer of 1896, Ellen came across an article about Dr Kellogg’s sanatorium, where slow-cooked food was the basis of the patients’ treatment. Everything fell into place and she realised that though the items in her diet were the right ones, the way she had cooked them had been wrong.
Ellen started cooking all her food - not just cereals - for as much as four hours. Over the next year or so she worked out a set of ‘best-methods’ - which foods were best steamed, which were better baked in the oven, and how long to cook each type of food, for the most pleasing results. She found that all her food tasted better cooked that way. It also kept for longer - which in the days before the fridge, was an important benefit, meaning less time spent shopping and watching the stove. Wondering whether the health problems Mrs Wallace blamed on yeast might actually be the result of bread not being cooked for long enough, Ellen developed a yeasted “supercooked bread”, which she could eat without any digestive troubles and was so popular with her neighbours that in late 1897 she was baking it regularly for 10 households.
From health and/or financial considerations, the Gaskells only had the coal fire burning in their flat for two days each week, so on those two days Ellen cooked enough food to last the other five; heating up the left-overs on an oil-stove on the non-fire days. They soon found that eating slow-cooked cereals meant that they weren’t hungry so often. So they followed another set of dietary advice, this time from a book by Dr Edward Hooker Dewey, and gave up breakfast. By 1897 they were only eating one big meal each day, at mid-day, with the occasional snack in the evening.
Isn’t Ellen’s tale of revitalisation-by-diet modern? And there being nothing new under the sun, it was also timely for many readers of her article. The extent of the feedback and the number of requests for more detail from readers of the published articles seems to have taken the various newspapers and magazines by surprise. When preparing to publish its own version of it, the Vegetarian Society of America must have contacted Ellen and asked for more practical information. When the article appeared in the Society’s Food, Home and Garden it included a list of Ellen’s best-methods (for different vegetables, pulses, rice, and that yeasted bread) so that readers could try them out in their own kitchens.
If Ellen had been alive to publish a book in our modern era of dietary gurus she might have made a fortune! No matter that there were other explanations for a lot of the changes in her health; and that some of the advice she took was faddish. She called the method of cookery she had developed “super-cooking”, over 100 years before variations on the term entered modern TV and advertising terminology. Super-cooking revolutionised her life. She had only had one flu-ey cold after reading the article about Dr Kellogg; after an incident of back-sliding when she had succombed to an ordinarily-cooked loaf of bread and some oatcakes. By early 1897 she was convinced that the level of chronic illness she saw around her was the result of bad eating habits: people were eating the wrong things, poorly cooked, and Ellen wanted to help them find the cure that she had found. Hence the article.
With her energy levels raised by her super-cooked diet, Ellen could now do “a long morning’s hard work” washing clothes, cleaning the flat and - on coal fire days - cooking and preparing all that bread. With more energy, and not bothering with breakfast any more, she could have the heavy work done by mid-morning, so that after their one, mid-day meal, the rest of the day was free for her to concentrate on other things - a walk, meetings in the afternoon, keeping engagements to sing in the evening; and preparing for the new era of humanity. The coming crisis was not far from Ellen’s thoughts even as she wrote down the details of how she super-cooked a rice pudding: she was thinking that if more women organised their food and hours her way, they would have more time and energy to spend doing the women’s work that was necessary to make the new era a reality.
AFTER THE CRISIS OF HUMANITY
In the mid-1890s Ellen believed that the coming crisis of humanity had begun already and she actually named 1896 as the year in which the public at large would begin to be aware of it. I guess she must have joined the GD as part of her preparations for that critical time, in which the population would usher the new era in by coming to understand the true meaning of love. I don’t know what she made of the year 1896 and its immediate successors. However, no articles by Ellen appeared between 1898 and 1904 and in her later writing she never mentioned the importance of 1896. There are other indications that 1896 et seq had disappointed her. By late 1903 she seems to have been seeking reassurance on two counts: that the new era of humanity would become obvious soon, and that she herself was scheduled play an important part in the process. After a gap of several years, she and George started having seances again. While scorning to become involved in the social world of spiritualism, or to go to seances with either amateur or professional mediums, they had gone through a period of holding them, just the two of them, using a planchette (a kind of board with a hole in it, used to help in automatic writing sessions) with Ellen as the medium, writing the questions and the answers. Both Ellen and George were given reassurance by two separate-though-linked sets of seances with entities which they understood in theosophical terms. So important did they think the communications they received to be, that George wrote up accounts of them and sent them to the Theosophical Review.
In talking about what happened during these sessions I’m trying not to be too sceptical but you can see from what George wrote about what happened, that the the question-and-answer sessions can be interpreted as communication with Ellen and George’s unconscious minds; rather than with entities from the Beyond.
The first three sessions were with an entity that identified itself as a fire elemental working on the higher reaches of the Devachanic plane; which had come in response to George’s recent reading (probably a re-reading) of Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine. A lot of Ellen and George’s questions to this entity were personal and they kept the answers to themselves. The questions that appeared in George’s article would have been of interest to theosophists, and not obviously personal; though if you had known Ellen well you would have realised how very personal some of them were.
It’s not clear how long a gap of time there was before the next set of seances, in which Ellen and George communicated with a whole group of entities George called devas “active on high mental planes”. This time it was Ellen who was told that her thoughts had caused the entities to appear: “...you called me. You thought of my colour...” and in these sessions she led the questioning rather than George. The responses confirmed two views of herself that Ellen might have begun to doubt: the devas told her that she was being trained for a particular job in the new era of humanity; and that they were not able to communicate with many humans because so few understood the language of music-colour. Both Ellen and George were told not to be put off doing the work they were destined to do for the future of mankind by the hostility of other people, or the hostility of other visions Ellen had had.
Having received some of the reassurance she needed, Ellen asked what would be the result of her and George’s work - what the future of the human race would look like. She was given some details: that the law of karma would apply; that the new era of humanity would be based on the principles of theosophy, religion and socialism; and that women would take their proper place in it, as teachers and upholders of Natural Law. The article reads as though it was George that asked Ellen to put the question about socialism. I don’t think she would have thought of it on her own account: a world of true relationships between the sexes wouldn’t need socialism, would I think have been her view. (Also, of course, the species would rapidly become extinct if all humans followed Ellen’s call to give up sex and try for a more lasting basis for their relationships.)
There were practices in the question-and-answer sessions that Ellen may have been remembering from her short time in contact with the GD: each of the devas which she saw presided over a different point of the compass and told her to face in that direction while they were communicating with her; and one deva told Ellen that she had a part to play in the awakening India’s women to the crisis of the new era of humanity, a part she must play by travelling to India, not in person but astrally. Of course, we’ll never know for sure whether she carried out her orders!
Although George sent his accounts of the two sets of sessions to the Theosophical Review, by the time the second of them was published neither he nor Ellen was a member of the TS any more. Ellen may have decided to resign because of what Annie Besant was doing at the Central Hindu College there, trying to revitalise Hinduism in India. She wrote to The Theosophist criticising Annie’s efforts on two counts: that Hinduism was too much corrupted to be rescued by its own followers; and that Annie would never achieve anything lasting unless she reached out to India’s women as well as its men. Ellen put forward the idea (which I find mind-boggling) that Hinduism and Christianity should somehow come together to form a new religion; the energy and competitiveness of Christianity lifting Hinduism out of the sloth that had allowed India to be conquered by the British. After several years studying theosophy Ellen had decided for Christianity. She could not approve of Hinduism’s emphasis on freeing yourself from the laws of cause and effect - from karma. She thought it resulted in inertia, a psychological “paralysis and death”, and she had opted instead for Christianity’s individuality and its belief that all are equal in the sight of God - for the USA rather than India as the place where the new era of humanity would begin. It seems strange to me that, holding those views, she should act as medium to entities that she and George both understood were theosophy not Christianity and perhaps they did shake her preference for Christianity for a while: Joy Dixon, in her book The Divine Feminine, mentions that Ellen rejoined the TS at some point after 1907. However she had resigned again by 1912 and her comments on Annie Besant’s work, her comments on it were the last article she had published in a theosophical journal as far as I know.
By 1904 Ellen must have been heavily involved in the longest piece of writing she ever attempted, A Woman’s View of Genesis Chapter Two Verses 18-25. She and George may have been studying Genesis together: George too had a work on it published, though not until 1925. Ellen’s book was definitely published, by Advance Press of Upper Richmond Road, in 1905, but I haven’t been able to find a single copy of it anywhere - not on the web nor in any library. I have found one copy of what might have been a kind-of companion piece - Ellen getting in her retaliation first with a pamphlet on Crankiness - but I couldn’t justify a trip to the Bodleian Library just to look at one publication of a few pages, so I don’t know what was in it - although I think the gist of it is pretty clear.
In the absence of the book itself all I can do by way of guessing what A Woman’s View of Genesis might be about is: say what II 18-25 consists of; and suggest that the book was an elaboration (into 248 pages) of her views as expressed in The Theosophist in November 1894. Genesis Chapter Two verses 18-25 is the section where God creates Eve out of Adam’s rib. Ellen argued that woman - unlike man - was NOT born of the earth. At her creation woman was not of the material world, she had only become so since the Fall and thus couldn’t be held responsible for the material world’s problems. Ellen preferred to think of woman’s creation as showing Eve as silence being taken out of Adam as sound. Since the Fall woman had not been able to sing - that is, until very lately. When woman could sing again it would be an indication that the imbalance between the sexes was being righted, and the human species was approaching that new era of human evolution.
The book was reviewed in Review of Reviews, probably by the magazine’s founder and chief editor W T Stead. With not many words to spare for it, he merely called it “mystical and biblical”. The Theosophist, rather cleverly, got a woman (also anonymous) to review it. She criticised Ellen for blaming men for everything. However, like Ellen, she thought that both sexes would have to work hard, and work together, to bring about the right conditions for mankind’s next evolutionary step. The unknown woman also agreed with Ellen’s view that those who called themselves Christian but didn’t live their lives according to Christianity’s teachings, were part of the problem not part of the solution.
THE WOMAN QUESTION
After the book on Genesis two years went by before a long article by Ellen was published that was the first of three in which she concentrated on ‘the woman question’, and on the ‘now’. There was no religion in ‘Women’s Sphere of Work’, which was published in the March 1907 edition of the Westminster Review, a long-established magazine with a reputation for political radicalism at least in theory. Ellen didn’t really have anything much that was new to say on the various issues around women’s work - for pay or not for pay, in the home or out in the world, were women physically up to the demands of work, should they do work previously only done by men; that sort of thing - but she did point up the issues of class and wealth (or lack of it) that underpinned so much of the debate while not always being openly acknowledged. And she argued that it was women’s job in the modern world to stand apart from its tendency to judge everything solely by its monetary value; and to supervise a general movement towards “higher possibilities through increase of knowledge”: the argument she had made in so much of her writing, but stripped of all spiritual or religious content. She was aiming to get those views out to a wider public; perhaps in increasing anxiety that society was going not towards a higher level of evolution but determinedly in the other direction, towards a completely materialist society.
From women’s work it was a short walk to woman’s suffrage and in 1912 Ellen contributed to the ongoing debate about it, writing a response to items published by the Times in which the Sir Almroth Wright attributed women who wanted the vote were mentally unbalanced; and Dr Leonard Williams suggested that the lunacy laws would have to be re-written if women didn’t stop campaigning for it. The basis of Ellen’s riposte was: how safe were women, having to consult doctors who were so out of touch with half their patients? And of course, Ellen was speaking from personal experience when she endorsed the recent opinion of Dr Agnes Savill that male doctors were 50 years behind the times when it came to treating women. In the rest of the article she took up the question of imbalance to argue that the importance of women and men to society could be seen as a set of scales, at the moment seriously out of balance due to the weight of favour and importance coming down so heavily on its male side. No real progress in evolution could be made until the balance was equal on both sides. Bulk, and force - the male side - wasn’t everything; the “finer forces” on the female side must be seen as just as essential.
Ellen also tackled what she felt was underlying the attitude of Sir Almroth Wright and others (mostly men) like him - a fear of the consequences of giving women the vote when there were so many more women than men in Britain. She reminded Wright that an excess of women over men was nothing new; and detailed some of the good things that these excess women had spent their time doing in the past. However, two novels recently chosen for serialisation in the Daily Mail had made Ellen worry that even women’s work as healers and in religious education was under attack. They were also feeling the pressure of the intense scrutiny they were now under as mothers and potential mothers of the British race - a scrutiny mostly formulated and carried out by men.
In short, Ellen felt that there was a concerted, possibly even conscious, effort being made by the (male) powers that be to condemn women as mad for wanting to lead a fuller life. This trend had to be stopped. She ended her article by returning to the imagery of imbalance and scales, saying that giving women the vote was essential if the balance between the sexes was going to be righted.
Ellen’s women’s suffrage article was published in The Freewoman, a magazine founded by Dora Marsden to voice radical views not just on the vote but on all the issues that surrounded the woman question. The Freewoman was so radical in its choice of subject-matter and so strident in its views that it made most women nervous, never mind most men. However, during the two years of its existence, Ellen was a regular reader, and may have been one of its 300 subscribers. She had already had one other article published in the Freewoman, which had helped build the magazine’s reputation. It was on by far the most controversial subject she ever wrote about: syphilis. She was very well aware that she was breaking taboos, as a woman, by even admitting she knew of its existence. She felt, though, that men had so consistently refused to take full responsibility for their part in the spread of the disease, that women couldn’t take the risk of ignoring it any longer - the very stability of the Empire and the future vitality of the British people was at stake. Ellen was particularly concerned about the children who had it; and how married women to be protected from unwittingly catching it from their infected husbands.
Ellen had probably been roused to write this particular article by decisions recently made by the various campaigns for women’s suffrage, to leave all issues surrounding sexual behaviour (and its consequences) out of their arguments. She thought it was cowardly and missing the point to continue to let men off the hook this way. Her own view was that men ought to be forced by moral pressure and even by law, to raise their own standards of sexual behaviour to the standards they expected of women. I’m not sure whether George Gaskell share this particular attitude, but it’s very likely that Ellen’s ideas about how far syphilis was damaging the British race, will have been influenced by George’s interest in eugenics.
When the Gaskells got married, he was 52 and she was 40. However, their not having any children may have been a pro-active decision on their part, rather than the result of the age of the two partners. I’ve already said that Ellen in her writing was looking forward to an era in which sexual passion between man and woman would have been replaced by something more lasting. She might have thought that not becoming a mother was a price she must pay for the part she saw herself playing in bringing into being the new era of humanity she was so convinced was imminent. (She did never have any children.) Or - as the middle-classes were increasingly doing despite a moral climate that continued to be against it - they may have used contraception to make sure Ellen was not going to conceive. She may even have married George on the understanding that they would not have a sexual relationship.
George had been an active advocate of eugenics at least since the late 1870s when he’d had a short exchange of letters with Charles Darwin on the possibilities offered by evolution by natural selection for preventing the ‘unfit’ from having children; and for keeping the birth-rate low by use of contraception. He wrote two pamphlets for The Malthusian League in the 1890s, and even in the late-1920s he was still a convinced eugenicist, regularly reading the Eugenics Review and probably a member of the Eugenics Society that published it.
Ellen saw women demanding the vote and taking the initiative in the control of syphilis as good indications of the rise of women she had been predicting in her articles announcing the new era of humanity. However, by 1911 Ellen was increasingly worried at the lack of any other indication that the human species had begun to take that evolutionary step; perhaps even by a sense that she was failing in her own task of helping lead mankind along the right path. She had not entirely given up hope that her fellow humans would follow her, but she was increasingly feeling short of support; as is shown (I think) by her reaction to a copy of the American journal The Bible Review she was lent by a friend during the summer of 1911. In this journal, she read an article in which the Rev George T Weaver talked about a seventh age of the world, the age of Aquarius (I did say there was nothing new under the sun), which he reckoned had begun in 1881. Ellen will also have seen that the journal’s subtitle was: A Monthly Journal of Christian Esotericism. So excited was Ellen to find that a group of Christians she had never heard of were also working towards the new era, that she made an effort to find what little literature there was in Britain about them. And she wrote them a long letter - it was an article really - asking the publishers of the magazine who they were and what religious views their organisation had; and explaining her own.
She was now pinning her hopes on the coronation of Edward VII having been a high-point, having been - although she didn’t actually say so - one of the ways in which the new era on the far side of the crisis of humanity was showing itself. I’m not sure whether Ellen had given up on the Motherhood of Music Association, or whether she was trying to start another idea to run in parallel with it, or whether her ideas had just moved on; but she was now trying to found something she called “a Theosophic Christhood” which would be governed by the “cult” (sic) of the Christ-Psyche, and in which occultism would become “scientific” (by which I suppose she means - accepted in mainstream thinking as something that could be researched and quantified).
The organisation that published The Bible Review was the Esoteric Fraternity Group of Applegate California. It had been founded in the late 1880s and surely, when she wrote her letter, Ellen must have taken that founding date to be another manifestation of the crisis of humanity. Ellen had discovered that the Fraternity’s members were interested in what she called the “higher use of Sex”. She told them that her Theosophic Christhood would leave behind the present era of uncontrolled and irresponsible sex in which men had understood women in the physical sense only. Instead women would lead men to a state of mind in which sex would be seen as “an electro-spiritual force” (she’s not the only GD member to be very interested in the possibilities of electricity), with partners being revealed to each other by “Christ-psychic vision” - a true marriage made in heaven. She asked the Esoteric Fraternity whether they could help bring about this true harmony between the sexes.
In a long note at the end of Ellen’s letter/article, the journal’s editor, Hiram Butler, admitted that the Esoteric Fraternity Group had indeed been founded as a theosophic Christhood; and that it acknowledged that for any future evolution of the species to take place, both genders would need to be “in harmony with the Divine purpose”. However, these were about the only views his group shared with Ellen. He disagreed that women were still degraded - he thought the sexes had achieved equality already - and he also thought (one would get bored to tears with hearing this argument if it wasn’t so facile, so dangerous and so persistent) that male violence was the result of female provocation. He said that his group was reluctant to have anything much to do with theosophy as theosophy had no god. And he dismissed Ellen’s arguments about cycles of humanity as the ideas of someone who just wasn’t grounded in reality.
A snub; not the first she had received. Poor Ellen. It may have come, too, at a difficult time in Ellen’s life. I may be reading far too much into some small pieces of evidence, but by 1911 she and George may have been living mostly or entirely apart.
Both Ellen and George were in England on the day of the 1911 census. Both of them had left London. But they were living in different places. On census day, both were the heads of households that consisted solely of themselves. George had returned to Brighton, to 19 Millers Road near the main station. Ellen, however, had gone to live at 55 Kimberley Road Portsmouth, a few minutes from the Esplanade at Southsea.
I’m not sure you can assume anything from the fact that both Ellen and George declared on their 1911 census forms that they were married. The social stigma of marriage breakdown made people who were in fact separated write down their legal status as ‘married’; and of course they were married in the sense that they were not divorced (most of them not being able to afford it). I have already found three GD members and the daughter of another member, doing that in 1911. However, George and Ellen were both people who wrote and studied; who may have want short spells of time apart to concentrate on these things; and had just enough income to afford to pay two rents provided they each picked rooms in a street and/or town that was not too fashionable. A bit unorthodox, especially in terms of the time that they were living in; but not the same as being separated. It bothers me, though, that Ellen was still living in Southsea in the summer of 1911 - that was where she read her borrowed copy of The Bible Review. And that when George died, though Ellen was still alive, George’s sister Louisa (who also lived in Brighton) was his executor. The 1921 census may give more information on whether George and Ellen were still living together at least some of the time.
However she might have felt when she read their reply to her hopeful letter, I think Ellen was well-off out of the Esoteric Fraternity, if the views of its journal’s editor were representative of its members. And even if the Esoteric Fraternity had been willing to work with her towards that theosophic Christhood, any cooperation would have been interruped if not completely derailed by the first World War.
By 1925, when she was 70, Ellen had admitted to herself that the new era of humanity might not come to pass in her lifetime. She wrote to the Occult Review to ask why it was that her fellow humans did not want to take the opportunity that was offered, to create a more spiritual, more equal society - why they didn’t believe that “forces and beings” could exist that were “higher than the human”. She was still sure that such entities existed and were out there wanting to help, but saw all around her that belief in them was declining. She did end this rather wistful, short letter on a positive note, however, wondering if she was the one who had got it wrong, and that it was possible for the human species to lift itself up to that higher level of evolution without the help of these super-human beings.
I’ve only found evidence of one art work by George Gaskell after 1900. After a spurt of paintings around the time that he and Ellen married, he seems to have more or less given up art to concentrate on his occult studies. He had several books published in the 1920s, the results of at least two decades of research into the symbolism of the Bible and the religions of ancient Egypt. He died in Brighton, in 1933.
Ellen died in 1940. Her death was registered in Bromley so I presume that’s where she had lived in her last years.
BASIC SOURCES I USED for all Golden Dawn members.
Membership of the Golden Dawn: The Golden Dawn Companion by R A Gilbert. Northampton: The Aquarian Press 1986. Between pages 125 and 175, Gilbert lists the names, initiation dates and addresses of all those people who became members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn or its many daughter Orders between 1888 and 1914. The list is based on the Golden Dawn’s administrative records and its Members’ Roll - the large piece of parchment on which all new members signed their name at their initiation. All this information had been inherited by Gilbert but it’s now in the Freemasons’ Library at the United Grand Lodge of England building on Great Queen Street Covent Garden. Please note, though, that the records of the Amen-Ra Temple in Edinburgh were destroyed in 1900/01. As far as I know, the records of the Horus Temple at Bradford have not survived either.
Family history: freebmd; ancestry.co.uk (census and probate); findmypast.co.uk; familysearch; Burke’s Peerage and Baronetage; Burke’s Landed Gentry; Armorial Families; thepeerage.com; and a wide variety of family trees on the web.
Famous-people sources: mostly about men, of course, but very useful even for the female members of GD. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Who Was Who. Times Digital Archive.
Useful source for business and legal information: London Gazette and its Scottish counterpart Edinburgh Gazette. Now easy to find (with the right search information) on the web.
Catalogues: British Library; Freemasons’ Library.
Wikipedia; Google; Google Books - my three best resources. I also used other web pages, but with some caution, as - from the historian’s point of view - they vary in quality a great deal.
SOURCES FOR ELLEN SOPHIE GASKELL
SNOW AND ATKINS
See wikipedia for the brief history of Ann Street and its change of name as Birmingham’s commercial district expanded.
Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Birmingham with its Suburbs issue of 1878 p393.
London Gazette 10 June 1879 p3873.
Commercial Gazette issue of 11 Oct 1893 p19.
Solicitors’ Journal and Reporter volume 50 1906 p687.
Familysearch England-ODM GS = 815948 records in Dr Williams’ Library: birth of Miriam Elizabeth Timpson. Familysearch affiliated publication number RG4_4675 gives some more detail.
CHARLES SANTLEY has his own detailed wikipedia page.
Theosophical Society Membership Register January 1889-September 1891 p160 entry for G A Gaskell. Theosophical Society Membership Register September 1891-January 1893 p38 entry for George Arthur Gaskell. Theosophical Society Membership Register 1895-May 1898 p221 entry for Mrs Ellen S Gaskell, with G A Gaskell as one of her sponsors. A note in the ‘Remarks’ column: “Rejoined see volume IX p293".
There’s mention of George and Ellen in The Divine Feminine: Theosophy and Feminism in England by Joy Dixon. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press 2001: pp71-72; p195-196.
ELLEN’S COMING NEW AGE
It’s likely that in talking about the coming new age, Ellen was meaning the Age of Aquarius. The idea that the world was about to move from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius was being discussed in occult circles in Ellen’s time, and other members of the GD wrote about it, especially Henry Pullen-Burry. See wikipedia for the idea of historical ages governed by the precession of the equinoxes, a concept that goes back to Hipparchus. At the bottom of the wikipedia page is a discussion of when the Age of Aquarius might be beginning: none of the dates that are mentioned suggest that it began in the age in which Ellen was living; though several suggest dates near to our own time. Most seem to think it hasn’t begun yet.
THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS, the only work by Ellen that’s in the British Library catalogue.
The Secret of Happiness published London: 1894 at Ellen’s expense; placed by the British Library cataloguers in Philosophical Tracts 1875-94.
Reputedly there were two reviews but I couldn’t get to read either of them:
- The Path volume 9 1895 p323 which is an American theosophical magazine published New York and edited by W Q Judge at the time. The reviews are not online unfortunately.
- supposedly in Lucifer September 1894-January 1895 but I must have missed it.
At an article from Rosicrucian Digest number 1 2009 p31: Pythagoras and Music by Melanie Richards M.Mus, SRC
At In it he suggests that the spectrum of 7 colours was governed by the same ratios as music’s diatonic scale. In Principia Mathematica Newton describes how sound moves through the air and he was especially interested in the correlations between the colour spectrum and the diatonic musical scale. contents of the Whipple Library shows their copy of Newton’s Opticks printed for the Royal Society 1704 by Sam Smith and Benjamin Walford of London.
Just noting that via google I saw a book published 1844 London: Smith, Elder and Co, Colour-Music by D D Jameson.
At Also at this website I found mention The Principles of Light and Colour by Edwin Dwight Babbitt, which made correspondences between colours and musical notes so that C = red; and also between colours and the astrological zodiac so that Aries = pure red and so on until Pisces = violet-red. The book was published New York: Babbitt and Co 1878. I didn’t see any evidence in Ellen’s writings that she’d taken an interest in astrology, though; so perhaps she never came across Babbitt’s book. I found thta Blavatsky had made correspondences between colours and 1) the principles of man; and 2) states of matter eg ether.
The Musical Exchange was very new when Ellen was using it as a postal address. Google came up with quite a few references to it covering 1894-95 but none from later:
Via newspaperarchive.com to the London Standard of 7 July 1894 p1 which is its classified ads page; and also on other days between July and December 1894 but not any later than that.
Via to The Westminster Budget of 28 December 1894 p16.
Via google to The Musical Herald and Tonic Sol-fa Reporter issues 550-561 1894 p30, p332.
Via google to Musical News volume 8 1895 p415.
UNFINISHED BOOK THE KEY OF DAVID... I note that the key of David isn’t Ellen’s invention. I couldn’t find the book or any reference to Ellen’s book on the web and it’s not in the British Library catalogue either, at least not under that title and not with Ellen Atkins or Ellen Gaskell as author. She wasn’t the only woman thinking along these lines: I noticed this book in the British Library catalogue: Woman’s Divine Rights; or Key of David to Physical Immortality: A New Revelation by Frances C Wright, published 1910 in Philadelphia USA by the Philadelphia Order. I wonder if Ellen knew her?
ELLEN’S SECRET ASSOCIATION: the two mentions of it
1 = The Music Review editor F G Gleason; volumes 3-4 1893 p454.
2 = Werner’s Magazine published Chicago: Music Teachers’ National Association; volume 16 1894 p265.
The venue for its meetings:
At rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk The Nursing Record of 26 May 1892 p415.
At their image number 30541808 is an advert from the Ladies’ Own Tea Association Ltd which appeared in The Queen, the Lady’s Newspaper 30 November (unfortunately I couldn’t read which year).
London Gazette 1 May 1903 p2790.
And a modern reference: Where to Take Tea by Susan Cohen. London: New Holland 2008 p41.
THE COLOURS AND TONES ARTICLE
The Theosophist volume XVI 1895 whose editor is co-founder of the Theosophical Society, Col Olcott. Published Adyar Madras: by its proprietors. Volume 16 number 2 November 1894 pp113-120 article by Ellen S Atkins: Colours and Tones. The article got a mention in Lucifer: A Theosophical Magazine volume XV September 1894-February 1895, editors Annie Besant and G R S Mead. London: Theosophical Publishing Soc. The mention was in volume 15 number 88 issue of 15 December 1894 p349 in the section where the editors commented on other theosophical and “Mystic” publications. Reviewer “HTE” described Ellen’s article as “evidently the result of much intuitional study”. Is it just my suspicious nature thinking that “HTE” was not very impressed?
ELLEN’S ‘SUPERCOOKING ARTICLE’; its four different versions
I think the Version I’m calling 1 is the earliest though I haven’t seen it yet as I’m not quite certain which newspaper it was published in, or exactly when - my source for it was a bit vague on those points. The magazine or newspaper is most likely to have been the Weekly Times and Echo - see its entry in the Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature: 1800-1900 p2907-08 and also Wikipedia on Thomas Richard Allinson 1858-1918 who became its medical editor in 1885.
Version 2: English Mechanic and World of Science volume LXVI. This newspaper was owned by The Strand Newspaper Co; office at 332 Strand. Published for the Company by E J Kibblewhite. Ellen’s article is in issue number 1700 published 22 October 1897 pP222-223: When and What to Eat.
Variant 3: via archive.org to Food, Home and Garden volume 11 new series number 15 issued March 1898: p39 and p43: Super-Cooked Food. Editor Henry S Club. Published Philadelphia: Vegetarian Society of America.
Variant 4 which includes the first of the two references I have found to Ellen as a singer:
Good Housekeeping published by the Hearst Corporation; volume 26 number 5 May 1898: p216. Seen at hearth.library.cornell.edu from their set of GH back issues.
The article Ellen read on Dr Kellogg’s sanatorium was in the short-lived magazine Natural Food, issue of August 1896: E H Baker on A Model Invalid’s Hotel.
Some of the people whose work on diet Ellen mentions in the article:
DENSMORE: via archive.org to the California Digital Library’s copy of Emmet Densmore’s The Natural Food of Man with the long subttle: A Brief Statement of the Principal Arguments ag the use of Bread, Cereals, Pulses and all other Starch Foods. Published 1890 in London and New York by Pewtress and Co of Little Queen Street Holborn and 319 West 45th Street. Densmore’s dates are 1837-1911, he was a British doctor. In the book’s Preface piv he suggests that eating starch is a cause of drunkenness; the intended readership of the book is temperance workers. On p1 Densmore had started his research on starches about 10 years previously, as an investigation into the causes of obesity.
MRS WALLACE. I couldn’t identify her though I gather from Ellen’s article that she was someone Ellen expected her readers to have heard of; so probably a writer or speaker on issues of diet.
DEWEY : at However, it can’t be the work by Dewey that Ellen had read because it wasn’t published until 1900 in Meadville Pennsylvania but not in Britain. Ellen must have read one if not several of his other publications: The text of Edward Hooker Dewey’s The No Breakfast Plan and the Fasting Cure.
1894 The True Science of Living
1895 The New Gospel of Health
1896 A New Era for Women
1899 Chronic Alcoholism
He has a wikipedia page.
FIRE ELEMENTAL ARTICLE
Theosophical Review which is the 1890s theosophical magazine Lucifer, renamed. Volume XXXIII number 196 September 1903 to February 1904. Editors still Besant and Mead. London: Theosophical Publishing Society of 161 New Bond Street. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern of 26 van Burne Street. Benares: Theosophical Publishing Society. Madras/Adyar at the The Theosophist offices. Theosophical Review volume 33 number 196 issue of 15 December 1903 pp347-54 article by G A Gaskell: What the Fire Elemental Told Us.
THE DEVAS ARTICLE
Theosophical Review volume XXXIV March-August 1904, editors still Besant and Mead and publishing details as per Volume 33. Theosophical Review volume 34 number 200 issue of 15 April 1904 pp110-121, article by G A Gaskell: What The Devas Told Us.
ANNIE BESANT IN INDIA ARTICLE
The Theosophist volume XXV 1904 edited by Colonel Olcott and published in Madras by its proprietors at Adyar. In volume 25 number 8 issue of May 1904 pp485-490, article by Ellen: Hinduism and Christianity.
1905 - ADVANCE PRESS
There’s an entry for the Advance Press in The Reformers’ Yearbook volume 13 1907 p228 as the Advance Press and Publishing Guild of 238 Upper Richmond Road.
PO Directory 1904 County Suburbs. Street directory p428 shows Edward Shuttleworth’s stationer’s shop at 148 Upper Richmond Road. Upper Richmond Road was re-numbered between 1904 and 1907. PO Directory 1904 County Suburbs. Street directory p358 Edward Shuttleworth’s stationery business is now at 238 Upper Richmond Road. Neither issue of the Directory lists a publishing firm at the address.
Advance Press was probably founded in 1904 or 1905 with Ellen’s book and pamphlet amongst its first publications. There are no publications by the firm in the British Library catalogue.
Crankiness is a 32-page pamphlet published 1905 by Advance Press as Issue 1 of its Advance Series. Although Amazon seemed to know of its existence there were no copies in stock; or at any of the other online booksellers. My partner Roger Wright stuck at the task of investigating it for longer than I did; it was he who found the reference to a copy being at Oxford University.
A WOMAN’S VIEW OF GENESIS... see the full text of the verses referred to at and at several other bible websites.
A Woman’s View of Genesis Chapter Two: 18-25. Even Roger Wright couldn’t find any copies of this at all, on the web or in a library. Some copies were printed, however, and even the Times had at least one, in 1905: it appeared in A Catalogue of the Most Important Books Available for Free Circulation Among Subscribers to the Times issued by the Times of London Book Club 1905. And there are the two reviews:
1 = Review of Reviews which is edited by W T Stead; volume 32 issue of November 1905 p503. One paragraph only. The reviewer isn’t named but I imagine it’s Stead himself.
2 = The Theosophist volume 27 1906. Published at Adyar Madras by the Theosophical Society. Volume 27 number 6 issue of March 1906 p468-69 review by “A Woman”.
WOMEN’S SPHERE OF WORK
Westminster Review volume 167 1907 January-June p323-29 issue of March 1907, article by Ellen: Women’s Sphere of Work.
ELLEN’S LETTER/ARTICLE BIBLE REVIEW
Seen via The Company had an English publisher, Fowler and Co of 7 Imperial Arcade Ludgate Circus. Ellen’s letter/article is signed and addressed like a letter and was printed in the Correspondence section of Bible Review volume 10 October 1911-September 1912: pp84-90. It was followed by a two-page editorial note on it, pp90-92. On p84 Ellen’s letter/article was dated 13 August 1911 and written at Southsea England. which is the webpage of the International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals, based at Forest Grove Oregon: The Bible Review: Monthly Journal of Christian Esotericism published by H E Butler and the Esoteric Fraternity Group of Applegate California through their Esoteric Publishing Company.
THE FREEWOMAN ARTICLES OF 1912
The full text of The Freewoman is on the web at The journals there include the notorious British modernist art magazine Blast. the website of Brown University’s The Modernist Journals Project.
Syphilis article: The Freewoman volume 1 number 9 issued Thursday 18 January 1912 p176 article by Ellen: The Unspeakable.
A modern reference to it appears in:
Sex and Suffrage in Britain 1860-1914 by Susan Kingsley Kent. London: Routledge 1990 p254 in her chapter: The Doctors; although she gives its publication date as April 1912 not January. There’s some general information on The Freewoman at p21; p167; p217.
Votes for women article, Ellen’s reply to Sir Almroth Wright: The Freewoman volume 1 number 22 issued 18 April 1912 pp438-: The Value of the Quick Unbalance of Women.
OCCULT REVIEW LETTER
Occult Review volume LXI January-June 1925; published London: William Rider and Son Ltd, editor Ralph Shirley. Volume 41 number 5 May 1925 p321 in the correspondence section, a short letter from Ellen headed: Has Humanity Attained to Superhumanity?
I’VE PREPARED A SEPARATE FILE FOR GEORGE ARTHUR GASKELL; not a biography just a list of art works and publications.
Copyright SALLY DAVIS
11 August 2015
Email me at
Find the web pages of Roger Wright and Sally Davis, including my list of people initiated into the Order of the Golden Dawn between 1888 and 1901, at: