Anthony Hern– Acknowledgment and Gratitude

As we complete the second volume of Letters to the Sage, one enjoyable task has been writing additional acknowledgments for individuals and institutions whose assistance was crucial to research on the letters.  In this volume, there are twenty individuals and five institutions or organizations to thank, which is roughly average for my own books and the first volume of LTS.  In all the books I’ve authored or coedited, there are a total of 148 individuals and 58 institutions and organizations thanked in acknowledgments. Many of these were people I knew, and others communicated by correspondence or email. But the person who was my greatest literary benefactor was a man I never met, spoke to on the telephone, or communicated with by email, Anthony Hern of London, England. In 2000 he wrote a report of how his research at the Indian Office Library ended up being published in my book The Masters Revealed.

This research, undertaken in 1993, seems with hindsight to have been destined to occur. I live on the same street as the IOL building then was, and my long time friend Leslie Price had asked if I would do some research for him at the IOL, to follow up a lead he had been given in 1983 by Peter Hopkirk, author of a number of very readable books (‘The Great Game’ and ‘Silk Road to China’ etc.), that there may be records relating to Blavatsky in the IOL. I looked for and found the secret records of the British Government in India relating to HPB and Col Olcott’s visit to India in 1888/89 [sic-typo, 1878-9. KPJ.]

In addition K. Paul Johnson, who has known Leslie since 1986, was keen to see if there were any records in the IOL that would be relevant to his own research for his then forthcoming book ‘The Masters Revealed’ (SUNY Press 1994 ISBN 0791420639). Therefore, it was serendipity that we were also able to offer him the results of the main research that I had done at the IOL and it subsequently formed the basis of the third section of his book. Leslie Price and I considered that by allowing him to make use of the material we had found relating to HPB and Col. Olcott’s visit to India in 1888 [1878-9], we would be able to make the information widely available in the shortest possible time. We were also aware that we did not have the time, resources or enough subject matter to be able to produce a full blown book project. We also thought that, as K. Paul Johnson’s book dealt with the topic of likely candidates for HPB’s Masters, the information of the British India Government records relating to her travels in India at an important time, would be relevant to the theme of Paul’s book. Happily, Paul was amenable to our suggestion.

See the Blavatsky Archives for the full report by Hern.

Working on the acknowledgments for the Alexander Wilder letters has got me thinking about gratitude for decades of assistance from people all around the world.  At the time I wrote the various acknowledgments, I was grateful to the series of individuals who helped with individual projects. Now after decades of such help, I’m deeply thankful not just for the series of individuals who helped me, but for the fact that there were so many with such diverse expert knowledge. As stated in The Masters Revealed, first and foremost thanks for that book went to Mr. Hern and Leslie Price for adding the international diplomatic correspondence that was the core of the third section of the book.  Leslie continues to be a friend and benefactor to whom I can regularly give thanks. I am unable to thank Tony Hern personally as he died in 2008, but owe it to his memory to state that his research added enormously to the value of my SUNY Press books on Theosophy.  Since he wrote no other material on Theosophical history, his contribution is in danger of being forgotten so I want to make it clear that a treasure trove of 19th century letters was both “manna from heaven” for my research in the 1990s and an omen of the same kind of unexpected primary source discovery with Patrick Bowen and the Thomas Moore Johnson correspondence.