Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Isis Unveiled and R.H. Benson

The Lifeline Bookfair in Canberra must be the largest charity bookfair in Australia, or very close to it.  It was on again over the weekend, and I dutifully lined up early Friday morning  for a 9am start.  Sunday morning the "distressed" books are lined up on a table and sold for a dollar or two each and it was there that I found the 2 volume set of Isis Unveiled pictured above for $1 each, the 1891 Bouton edition.  I've no idea why they were there amongst the damaged books as there isn't a lot wrong with them.

Both volumes have the following signature and date on the title page - they look like "R.H. Benson", though the "H" looks a bit dodgy.  Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914) was interested in theosophy for a time, though the signatures don't look much like the few signatures I've found online, which spell out his whole name.  Still, signatures can change over time and this would be quite an early one - if anyone has any information one way or the other, please let me know.


  1. I am pretty sure that R.H.'s mother and brother (E.F.Benson) attended one of Blavatsky's meetings in London, which certainly adds credence to the possibility of Hugh's owning this pair of volumes.

    1. I'm pretty sure R.H.B. developed an interest in theosophy sometime in the 1890s, so the dates fit.

  2. Are you sure it says "RH"? It looks to me like it might be "Ros" or something else?

  3. Yes, it could be Ros. - an abbreviation of Roslyn perhaps. Certainly it would an unusual way of writing an "H".