Volume 1 Page 1
H. P. BLAVATSKY’S LITERARY CAREER
THE EARLIEST KNOWN WRITINGS
[There exists no definite evidence that H.P.B. had ever published any articles, essays or letters to Editors prior to October, 1874. Still the probability of her having written is considerable, as various statements have been made by herself and others which seem to indicate that her literary work began much earlier in life than the year 1874. We may never obtain, however, any conclusive evidence concerning this.
There is, for instance, her own reported statement in an interview given by her to the Daily Graphic of New York, and published November 13, 1874, to the effect that she was a contributor to the Revue des Deux Mondes of Paris, and acted as correspondent of the Indépendence Belge and several Parisian Journals. No record of this exists, however, in the Editorial Offices of these well known periodicals, though it is possible that she may have written under some pseudonym, or merely as “correspondent” from one or another part of the world. The text of this interview is of a rather sensational kind, and embodies a number of errors and misstatements as to names and events. So it cannot be relied upon.
Then there is a statement made around 1956-57 by a very old gentleman, Adolphe de Castro, of Los Angeles, California, who had met H.P.B. in Berlin about 1873, to the effect that she was then reading galley-proofs of some articles she had written in Russian, that he was able to be of help to her with some old Hebrew terms, and that what she was writing was intended either for a Russian paper or for a local Jewish Journal, the most likely one being Das Zeitung des Judenthums. The old files of this Journal have been investigated, as far as this could be done in the holdings of the British Museum, but no positive result was obtained.
There is also a statement of hers made to her friend, Alexander Nikolayevich Aksakov, in a letter dated October 28, 1874, to the effect that she translated into Russian a manuscript by a medium
named James, and which was supposed to have been the second part of Dickens’ unfinished novel, Edwin Drood. She would have liked to have had it published in Russian.*
Wm. M. Ivins, H.P.B.’s lawyer in her lawsuit of 1874-75, said that H.P.B. was translating Darwin’Origin of Species and H. T. Buckle’s History of Civilization in England, while the suit was pending.†
All of these various statements may or may not be based on fact. No supporting evidence for them, however, has ever been found.
In the same letter to A. N. Aksakov mentioned above, H.P.B., having just returned to New York from a visit to the farmhouse of the Eddy Brothers, at Chittenden, Vt., says that she has been translating Col. Olcott’s articles on the mediumistic phenomena of the Eddy Brothers, which he was then contributing to the pages of the New York Daily Graphic; she says that she could send them to Aksakov regularly, together with their accompanying illustrations.‡
It is quite probable that H.P.B. did actually translate all of Col. Olcott’s articles as they appeared, because Aksakov wrote to him on April 4/16, 1875, that he had finished reading them. It is these articles of Col. Olcott that were eventually published in book-form, under the title of People from the Other World (Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Co., 1875).††
It is not definitely known what became of H.P.B.’s Russian translation of Col. Olcott’s original articles, and there is no evidence that they were ever published in any Russian Journal.]
* Vide Vsevolod S. Solovyov, A Modern Priestess of Isis, Engl. transl., London, 1895, p. 227; Russian orig., St. Petersburg, 1904, p. 256.
† Unpublished MS. of Mrs. Laura Holloway-Langford, now destroyed.
‡ V. S. Solovyov, op. cit., Engl. tr., pp. 226-27; Russ. orig., p. 256.
†† Old Diary Leaves, First Series, p. 80. The Colonel speaks of H.P.B.’s translation of his “book.” He most likely means his Series of articles as such, because these did not appear in book-form until March, 1875.