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Johnston, Charles

(1867-1931). Distinguished orientalist, writer, and theosophist. Johnston was born at Ballykilbeg, County Down, Ireland, on February 17, 1867. His father was William J. Johnston, member of Parliament for Belfast and a leader of the Temperance Movement and his mother was Georgina Barbara Hay, daughter of John Hay, of Park, Scotland. Johnston was educated at Derby, England and Dublin University.

In 1888 Johnston married Vera Vladimirovna de Zhelihovsky, daughter of Helena P. BLAVATSKY’S sister Vera Petrovna de Zhelihovsky. Shortly after their marriage they sailed for India on the same ship as Henry Steel OLCOTT, arriving in November. Unfortunately they settled in an unhealthy district and Johnston soon contracted “jungle fever”(malaria?) and was forced to return to Europe. For the next six years he earned his living as a journalist. In 1885 he joined the Theosophical Society (TS) and in the Spring of 1887 met Blavatsky in London; his account of this meeting is recorded in the Theosophical Quarterly, July 1931, pp.12-3.

In October 1896 Johnston and his wife moved to the US and became American citizens in 1903. During the next 28 years he worked for the Theosophical Movement, writing many articles for its various publications. In 1895, when the division took place between the American Section and the Adyar TS, Johnston remained a member of the separate American TS under William Quan JUDGE. After Judge’s death in 1897, Katherine TINGLEY formed the Universal Brotherhood Organization and Johnston elected to remain associated with the TS under the Presidency of E.T. Hargrove (?-1939). He died October 16, 1931, at St. Luke’s Hospital, New York.


P.S.H.


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