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Hastings: Death of Beatrice Hastings

from Canadian Theosophist Vol XXIV, December 1943, p. 312

We deeply regret to announce the death on October 30 of Mrs. Beatrice Hastings, authour of the "Solovyoff Fraud" critique, the Defence of Blavatsky books, etc. We only received this information as we go to press in a letter from Doris L. Green, Mrs. Hastings' executor. The letter is dated Movember 11 and says she passed peacefully away, but no other details are given.


from Canadian Theosophist Vol XXIV, January 1944, pp.346-347




[1879 - October 30, 1943]

So far we have received no explanation from Miss Green, executrix of the Hastings Estate, why she sent the letter, certainly misleading, in which she stated that Mrs. Hastings had passed peacefully away on October 30. The letter, dated November 11, arrived just in time to get the paragraph which appeared, inserted before the magazine was printed on Saturday, December 11; it was in the hands of the binders on Monday and was mailed on the following Wednesday.

On that Monday evening, the 13th, (we have only one mail delivery each day, and that in the afternoon during the war) I had a letter dated 11th, from Mr. Hugh Williamson of Boston, enclosing a clipping from a Worthing paper, which he had received from that place. It gave an account of the inquest which had been held on Mrs. Hastings' body which had been found dead in her own kitchen with the gas turned on. Miss Green gave evidence that she was nurse-secretary to Mrs. Hastings, who lived alone at 4 Bedford Row. Medical evidence was to the effect that deceased must have suffered "considerable pain" for a long period from the condition of her internal organs. Those who have witnessed the agonizing sufferings of cancer patients can perhaps understand how the tormented body desires to end its torture. "The coroner returned a verdict of suicide while the deceased was mentally unhinged."

This appeared in the Worthing Gazette of October 31. Miss Green's letter which we quoted in our December issue, was dated November 11.

Mrs. Hastings' last letter to me was dated October 26 and was dictated from her sick-bed to Miss Green. "As I am extremely ill," she said, "I am sending the Solovyoff book over at once."

This book is covered with marginal notations and cross references, about which she said: "a good many of the marginal remarks were made before I had any idea of writing about Madame Blavatsky, just expressions of my indignation. I think I will send the box of books to a Deposit Store where you can claim it any time . . . If I can find the Adyar Saucer that also will be sent off." A cable from Miss Green of December 19 stated "Books left you personally."

Writing on October 9 when for the first time she spoke of the serious nature of her illness, she dictated to Miss Green: "This is one of my bad days, but I never know when I am going to have a good one, and the secretary is here, so, here goes, but I shall have to be brief . . These books are of no use except to a historian of Blavatsky. By the way, the India Office wrote and asked me if I had published any more on the defence of Madame Blavatsky . . I do not suppose for a moment they have got as complete a library as I have. Most of the books have been packed for 2 years in a good stout wooden packing case with leaden edges. I couldn't think of unpacking so I'll leave it to you to suggest what to do, send it straight out to you. You must send me the route. Alas! it will be opened in the Customs. . . . There, dear Mr. Smythe," she concludes, "I think that's all I can say. If you will make a list of all books when you get them, send me a copy. I will star mark the most valuable, the which will include some very insignificant pamphlets. I won't say I hope you're getting on and all that. I get so weary when people say it to me, but I look to you as a staunch friend. Of course your disease is not so horrible as mine. You may have several years yet."

This was on October 9, and she evidently looked forward weeks or months ahead when she might check the list of books. The last years of Mrs. Hastings' life were devoted to the Defence of Madame Blavatsky, to whom she had been attracted first by the brilliance of her literary style and the sterling quality of her writings. Mrs. Hastings was herself a literary writer and critic of a high order and spoke with authority on literary matters. She felt keenly the failure of Theosophical officialdom to recognize or support the work she was doing. She estimated their devotion to Theosophy by the interest they showed in establishing the reputation of its foremost modern messenger. We can best serve her memory by doing what we can to show our own genuine interest in the work she undertook by giving it enduring and complete success by upholding it in the world of letters and carrying it to the minds and hearts of men. Its worth and truth call for our best efforts.

A. E. S. S.

[A short biography of Mrs. Beatrice Hastings can be found at]