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Anna Blackwell (June 21, 1816 – January 4, 1900) was a British writer, journalist, and translator who focused on spiritual and social issues. She had a long and successful career as Parisian correspondent of leading colonial papers. She also wrote poetry, fairy tales, and essays on occult subjects. As a teacher and journalist, she exercised a wide influence in the U.S. and in France. She was a poet, translator, and journalist, taught school, was a member of the Brook Farm community in 1845 and settled in France thereafter. She translated the works of the French socialist Fourier and the novels of George Sand. She was a contributing correspondent for as many as eleven newspapers (in the United States, India, Australia, South Africa, and Canada), writing a weekly column under the pseudonym “Fidelitas” on whatever the editors wished: “either purely gossip, purely political or mixed according to the need of their papers.” Towards the end of her life, she lived at Triel, France, and wasted her assets in a fruitless search for the lost treasure of King James II of England.
Anna Blackwell was born at Bristol on June 21, 1816. Her parents were Samuel Blackwell and Hannah (Lane) Blackwell. Her brother, Henry, was an American advocate for social and economic reform who co-founded the Republican Party and the American Woman Suffrage Association. Samuel was an abolitionist. There were two other brothers, John and George. Of the sisters, Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, while Emily Blackwell was the third. Sarah was an artist. Their sister-in-law, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, was the first woman to be ordained as a mainstream Protestant minister in the United States. Governesses provided her education.
In 1832, she moved to the United States with her family. Between 1838 and 1842, Blackwell and two of her sisters ran a school in Cincinnati. She then moved Paris, where she resided as a newspaper correspondent for forty-two years. She contributed to Once a Week, English Woman's Journal, The Ladies' Repository, and other publications. In later life, Blackwell she lived at Triel, France. Blackwell was an Associationist being conversant with the social reorganization theories of Charles Fourier, and advocated cooperative methods as opposed to individual and competitive enterprise. She also became a member of the Brook Farm community, near Boston, Massachusetts. Blackwell was a spiritualist. In 1873, the Eclectic Magazine announced that Blackwell had printed for private circulation a pamphlet entitled "Spiritualism and Spiritism", which contained what the magazine described as "some rather strange revelations". The publication went on to say that Blackwell informed the editors that she had authentic evidence, revealed to her by two spirits, that so far back as the year 3543 B.C. she held the distinguished position of a Princess of Abyssinia. It was her father of that date who first communicated this to her, and the intelligence has since been confirmed by another spirit. In 1875, the Spiritualist Association of Great Britain offered two prizes for essays upon 'the Probable Effect of Spiritualism upon the Social, Moral, and Religious Condition of Society', the first of which was won by Blackwell. She also translated Allan Kardec's works from the French, besides writing in the spiritual press numerous articles explaining and defending reincarnation, many years prior to the advent of Helena Blavatsky. Chapman and Hall published a volume of her poems which illustrate the spirit and aspirations of her life, especially those entitled "The Bishop's Banquet" and "A Vision--of human life as it is, and might, and should be". Blackwell also wrote and translated several works on social questions, her last book, entitled Whence and Whither having been published by G. Redway in 1898. Spence's Encyclopædia of Occultism (1920) mentions her briefly, only stating that Blackwell endeavoured without success to establish the doctrine of reincarnation in England.
She died January 4, 1900, in Hastings. Some of her correspondence and that of other family members is held in Blackwell family papers collection at Duke University.
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