English writer; novelist; born at Porṭsmouth Aug. 14, 1836; educated at King's College, London, and at Christ's College, Caṃbridge; died in London June 11, 1901. Besant was among those persons who helped the Russian and Polish Jews who flocked to the East End of London. He lived to see at least one of his many novel views on social subjects and aspirations realized: the Palace of Delight, which figured in his "All Sorts and Conditions of Men" (1882), having given rise to the People's Palace in the East of London. While this was not meant exclusively, or even partially, to benefit Jews, yet it did so, owing to its situation, which was in the center of a large Jewish population.

From 1868 to 1885 Besant acted as secretary of the Palestine Exploration Fund. During this period he wrote in collaboration with E. H. Palmer, the Orientalist, a "History of Jerusalem" (1871), and acted as editor of "The Survey of Palestine." In 1893 he published his novel, "The Rebel Queen," in which the heroine and many of the minor characters were Jewish.

  • Men and Women of the Times, 1895, p. 72;
  • Who's Who, 1901, p. 156.
J. E. Ms.
Images of pages