Annie Besant, the first woman to endorse birth control
London-Irishwoman was a trade unionist, socialist, and later an Indian nationalist
Annie Besant filled halls across Britain as one of the National Secular Society’s most effective public speakers, and worked as a journalist for the National Reformer.
In 1874, Annie Besant left her controlling husband and reinvented herself as one of Victorian Britain’s leading activists. Fifteen years later, she reinvented herself for a second time, turning to Theosophy and Indian nationalism.
Annie Wood was born in London in 1847 to Irish parents. After her father’s early death, her mother took in boarders and sent Annie to Dorset to be educated at the charity of a “wealthy spinster”, Ellen Marryat. There, Annie developed an intense religiosity that would later be supplanted by atheism.