HPB and her family in Ukraine

It is hardly known that such an outstanding person as the founder of the theosophical society and the author of a well-known “Secret Doctrine”, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, was born in Ukraine – in the town of Ekaterinoslav, nowadays the town of Dnipro. It took place at night of August 12, 1831, in the Fadeyev family’s house - her grandmother and grandfather’s place.

That year one Frenchman, having visited Ekaterinoslav, wrote that the town was “built on such a giant plan which makes it a pure desert, where rare buildings look truly forgotten and scanty. Its wide and correct streets, marked only by not numerous dwellings with a large distance between them, seem to have been planned for million habitants. Here are a few large buildings, a great number of churches, markets and charming gardens, but due to the senseless mania of Russians for planning their cities in enormous sizes it will be a delightful place of habitation only because it is rich in wonderful Dneiper and fertile hills round it”. (1, c.33)

The town was founded by Ekaterina the Great in 1783, only 50 years before Helena’s birth; Duke Potemkin built there a magnificent palace for Ekaterina II to have a rest on her way to the conquered Crimea.

In 1815 the Fadeyevs moved to Ekaterinoslav where resided in their mansion because HPB’s grandfather – Andrey Michaylovich Fadeyev, a college adviser and cavalier, was appointed as a member of the trustee committee on settlers’ affairs and was transferred for special commissions to the Novorossiysk office of foreign settlements of the south territory of Russia. He was an example of honesty, decency and devotion to his work. His daughter, Nadyezhda Nikolayevna, wrote about him “A.M. Fadeyev during all his long-termed official duties, holding high posts, had the opportunity to enrich himself…But he never did it; he earned for living working in a state service and led a very modest life, strictly balancing losses with the total money received…”. (5, c.17)

Old family friend, H.F. Pissareva, said that Helena Blavatsky was a person with a very interesting origin – among her closest ancestors there were the representatives of the historical lineage of France, Germany and Russia”. (4, c.15) HPB’s grandmother, Elena Pavlovna Dolgoruky, Princess on her mother’s side, got the name of Fadeyev after the wedding; she was a remarkable person and the soul of the family. She belonged to the most ancient family of the Kyivska Rus, which ascended to Rurik. That family originated from Saint Prince Michail Chernigovsky, who was tortured in the Golden Orda, having refused to worship at the pagan idols. One of his descendants, nicknamed “Dolgoruky”, became the forefather of the Dolgoruky family. Prominent Generals, statesmen and writes belonged to that family. (2, c.19) One of them – Yuri Dolgoruky – was the founder of Moscow, his remains are still preserved in a marble sarcophagus in the “Church in Berestov” in Kyiv. HPB’s grandparent, Prince Pavel Vasilyevich Dolgoruky, Major General at the time of Ekaterina the Great, had friendly and comradely relations with M. Kutuzov.

The French branch joined the genealogical tree of the family when Prince Pavel Vasilyevich got married with Henrietta de Plessis, which was a French noblewoman. (2, c.19) Their daughter, Blavatsky’s grandmother, Helena Pavlovna, was a well-educated woman, she spoke five languages, skillfully painted and made music; since her childhood she had had an inclination for serious natural sciences: geology, botany, zoology, archaeology and numismatics. Her granddaughter, Vera Zhelihovsky, wrote about her: “...in practice, making rare, precious collections, having a sheer volume of her writings, she was in scientific correspondence and active exchange of investigations and drawings with the well-known European naturalists: R. Murchison, the President of the London Geological Society and also with Steven, Berr, Abych, Karelin”. In his works Hommaire-de-Hell mentioned not once that she was a surprisingly scientific person who conducted his researches a lot. Lady H.L. Stanhope, an English famous world traveler, wrote in one of her books on Russia:” that she met in that barbarian land an outstanding woman-scientist, who would have become famous in Europe”. (2, c.20) Sir R. Murchison visited her in her dwelling lost in the remote Ukrainian steppes, and it was said that he named in her honour one of the giant fossils. (Venus Fadiefei). (1, c.48)

The documents of the Fadeyevs’ archive are kept in the section of rare editions and manuscripts of the Odessa State Scientific Library named after M.Gorky, in the Pushkin fund. There is a list of H.P. Fadeyev’s substantial scientific studies she made:

The books of a large format, the size of a sheet of paper, thick

On botany: 17 volumes with the given description of plants, which were collected, drawn in the natural world and defined in terms of botanical terminology.

On natural sciences: 10 volumes of pictures with the names of: butterflies, insects, birds, lizards, sea-shells, etc.

The books of smaller format:

On natural history and zoology: 3 volumes of pictures of birds and fish.

On archeology and history: 4 volumes of pictures of ancient things, weapon, armour, utensils, lamps, etc. Drawn from the exhibits, and copies

6 volumes of pictures of ancient coins

2 volumes of pictures of ancient historical costumes and head-dresses

1 volume titled “Ukrainian songs collected by HPF in the Kyiv province since 1803 till 1814”

Other: 2 books with pictures “Arbours, Decorations for Gardens, Views, etc.”

8 volumes of “Collection of Archaic Verses, Songs, Ballads, Charades, etc.”

2 books on housekeeping

The books of a large format number 28 volumes.

The books of a smaller format number 29 volumes: there are 57 volumes in all. All above mentioned is handwritten by H.P. Fadeyev, nee duchess Dolgoruky (OSSL, Pushkin Fund, manuscript 17/6, L.129). (5, c.9) After H.P. and A.M. Fadeyevs’ passing away a part of that considerable collection and some personal things as the cross belonged to Prince Michail Chernigovsky the Great, were transferred to Petersburg to their relative, Sergey Yulyevich Witte, for save keeping.

Helena Andreyevna Hahn, HPB’s mother, was only one when the Fadeyevs moved to Ekaterinoslav. The Fadeyevs’ younger children –Ekaterina, Rostislav and Nadyezhda - were born there.

H.P. Fadeyev brought up and taught her children herself as well as her grandchildren after H.A. Hahn’s passing away. Her influence on HPB was decisive. She was a gifted person and her children inherited talents from her. Her elder daughter, a writer, Helena Andreyevna Hahn, was a mother of both Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Vera Petrovna Zhelihovsky, the later became a writer too. Her second daughter, Ekaterina Andreyevna, had a son –Sergey Yulyevich Witte, afterwards he became a prominent statesman, the Minister of Finance of Russia. H.P. Fadeyev’s son, Rostislav, was a famous General, a writer on military theme and a reformer. Nadyezhda Andreyevna was also a writer, she was the first member of the theosophical society in Odessa, in Russia. She had very close relations with Helena Blavatsky.

Helena Pavlovna was a kind-hearted person and showed her compassion not only for her own relatives: she devoted a lot of time to charitable work and saved many poor families from starvation, she also foundered an orphanage. (2, c.21)

HPB’s mother, Helena Hahn, was an author of a set of novels and stories, which were very popular in 30-40s of the 19 century. She was known under a pseudonym “Zenaida R-va” Belinsky called her “Russian George Sand”. She was in correspondence with a decembrist S.I. Krivtsov. In Odessa she got acquainted with V. Benediktov, he had a very high opinion about her books. A chance meeting with Pushkin in 1936 in Petersburg inspired her forever. Helena Andreyevna was a romantic person, before marriage she dreamed about an ideal husband who would have had deep spiritual interests. But Hahn, a tall, stately captain of the cavalry artillery shattered her hopes. As well as Helena he was the representative of a noble family – of Counts Hahn von Rottenstern-Hahn of the Mecklenburg region of Germany. He was a descendant of the German knights. He was a well-educated person but all his interests were horses, guns, dogs and dinner parties. He was noted for his sharp wit and ingrained skepticism. Besides he was 12 years older than his wife.

Helena Andreyevna wrote: “Everything that I had sought for since my childhood - that was dear and sacred to my heart, was ridiculed by him or displayed in a merciless and cynical manner with his cold and cruel mind”. (1, c.38) She took refuge in writing novels about the unfortunate state of married women in Russia. It is interesting that the novels written by the famous German author Ida von Hahn, HPB’s distant grandmother on her father’s side, were also about the fate of the women which were unhappy in their families.

The Fadeyevs’ mansion they dwelled in at Ekaterinoslav remains. In 1991 on the anniversary of HPB’s passing a plague was hung and the building was stated to be a cultural and historic monument.

When Blavatsky was born, her father, Pyotr Aleksandrovich Hahn, an officer of the cavalry artillery battery was in Poland. He came back home only when she was 6 months. In a year the Hahns moved to Romankov (now it is the Kamenskoe region), so they started the nomadic life in Ukraine moving from one small town to another. Helena and her family lived in Ekaterinoslav, Romankov, Kamenskoe, Oskop, Uman, Poltava, Oposhna, Odessa and many others.

It was not easy for Helena Andreyevna to lead the nomadic life being a wife of an artillery officer. In her stories “The Ideal” and “Vain Gift” she wrote about the fate of a woman, having foreseen to some extent her daughter’s future: “The position of a man with a higher intellect is intolerable enough to this world; but the position of a woman whom Nature who has been placed by Nature itself above the crowd is verily desperate”. (2, c.43) They had been living in Poltava longer than anywhere else. Vera, Blavatsky’s sister, recalled those days in her book “When I was small”: “…mother was often ailing, and when in good health she would sit for hours behind her green calico screen and write”. That place was called “Mama’s study”. Her last years Helena Petrovna suffered a lot when she thought about her children’s future. When she was advised to stop writing for the sake of her own health she answered: “no matter what sacrifices might be but I want my children to be fundamentally educated. And there are no means whatsoever but my pen!” (2, c.42)

But governesses could not give a needed education for Helena Blavatsky, because their amount of knowledge was not sufficient for her. However to live among the soldiers was not dull for small Helena. Later on Blavatsky recalled: “I had moved with his artillery regiment from one place to another until I was 8 or even 9 years old…” (3, c.229) Her sister wrote: “Lyolya became a particular favourite of harsh soldiers and learned from then to call a spade a spade when she was unable to say something even more expressive. She kept an inclination to use strong words till her last days”. (1, c.39) Helena could never used to follow ordinary timetable with teachers and governesses, whom she constantly drew to despair by her rebelliousness against routine; but they were delighted by her sharp intelligence and abilities, particularly in philology and music. Resoluteness was inherent in all qualities of her character and it suited more a man than a woman. Energy never left her in difficulties and dangers of her extraordinary life. Since childhood she had a passion for traveling, brave enterprises, strong feelings. She never acknowledged any authority, made her path by oneself, having independent aims; she despised the requirements of high society, firmly overcoming all the obstacles that restricted the freedom to follow her own way. (9, c.8)

Life and activities of all the members of the Fadeyev family are also closely connected with another town in Ukraine – Odessa. In 1835 in Romankov Helena Andreyevna lost her son Sasha who was two years old, and both she and her daughter Helena moved to Odessa where her parents had lived since the spring of 1835. That year in April, 29 the second daughter, Vera, was born. (5, c.25) The offices of the foreign settlers had being abolished in Ekaterinoslav and A.M. Fadeyev had to move to Odessa to find a job. The cost of living in Odessa was much higher compared with Ekaterinoslav and Fadeyev bought a small land property – a farm of Polyakovka, which was 40 miles from Odessa. That farm was described in the “List of the inhabited places of the Kherson province” of the year 1896: The farm of Polyakov (called Polyakovka before) consisted of one farm-stead with 6 inhabitants; it was near the village of Pavlinka of 547 inhabitants. Nowadays Pavlinka numbers about 700 inhabitants. But in 1916 the farm of Polyakov was not mentioned in the material of the all-Russian agricultural census of population; probably it was joined with the larger village of Pavlinka. (5, c.16)

The inhabitants of the farm were Helena Pavlovna and Andrey Mihaylovich Fadeyevs, their children – Helena Andreyevna Hahn with her daughters, Ekaterina Andreyevna Witte, Nadyezhda Andreyevna Fadeyev, Rostislav Andreyevich Fadeyev. When Fadeyev’s son Rostislav was 10 he was sent to the best boarding school of Tritten. (5, c.17) In Odessa Andrey Mihaylovich was given an order of Saint Anna of the second degree. In May 1936 he was transferred to Astrakhan. H.A. Hahn with her daughters followed him.

In the spring of 1839 Helena Andreyevna left Kamenskoye and went to Odessa for water treatment because of ill health and at the urgent doctors’ request. In summer P.A. Hahn was sent to the summer camps in Uman of the Kyiv province and his family came back from Odessa and joined him there. In autumn he was directed to Gadyach of the Poltava province. In November the Fadeyev family moved from Astrakhan to Saratov because Andrey Mihaylovich was appointed a governor there. Soon Helena Andreyevna and her children arrived in Saratov. Helena Andreyevna was pregnant and in June of 1840 her son Leonid was born. In the spring of 1841 the Hahn family gathered in Oposhna near Dikanka.

In the spring of 1842 all members of the Fadeyev family returned to the farm near Odessa to have a rest and to look up Helena Andreyevna, who was seriously ill. She was only 28 but she had already written 9 novels. She died after a long illness: tuberculosis showed no mercy on her. On the 24 of June, 1842 she was buried in the Odessa cemetery, sometime after it was called “Staroye”. The inscription was carved on her grave: on a white marble column twined with a white marble rose: “The strenghth of her soul overpowered her life”. (5, c.30) One year after her book of 4 volumes was published and Belinsky wrote in his article: “There had been no such a woman in Rus who was far more gifted, sensible and thinking than she was…Such lines can flow from the pen of the authors of a great soul and talent”. (2, c.41-43)

The Fadeyev family’s burying place in Odessa and the grave of Helena Andreyevna Hahn are not discovered now. In the 30s of the XX century the old cemetery was destroyed. A cultural rest park and a zoo adjacent to it are situated on the former cemetery place; the graves of Blavatsky’s relatives (her sister – Vera Zhelihovska, Vera’s son - Valerian, her uncle - Rostislav Fadeyev, her aunt - Ekaterina Witte with her son - Boris Witte, her aunt - Nadyezhda Fadeyev) are under the layer of asphalt. (5, c.30)

After the death of their mother, Blavatsky, her sister Vera and her brother Leonid went to Saratov, where they were further brought up by their grandmother.

It was in 1860 when Blavatsky visited Ukraine again: she came to Pskov to see her sister after a long-lasting travel all around the world. “In summer we went to the Caucasus to visit our grandmother and grandfather –Fadeyevs, our aunt Mrs. Witte – our mother’s sister. They have not seen Helen for 11 years”- as it was written by V. Zhelihovska in her memoirs. “I was in Kyiv when my grandmother H.P. Fadeyev died in Tiflis (it was on the 24 of August, 1860). In a few days… we arrived in Odessa”. (5, c.39)

In 1865 Ekaterina Andreyevna and Yuliy Fedorovich Witte brought their sons Boris and Sergey to Odessa: they were going to enter the Novorossiysk University. But they failed. So they were sent to the Rishelye gymnasium. Boris was also admitted to the Novorossiysk University to attend lectures. And in 1870 he finished the course of jurisprudence. (5, c.79-80)

After her husband’s death in 1868, Ekaterina Andreyevna, her children and her sister Nadezhda Fadeyev settled in Odessa. In the Odessa State Archive there is a “Document about a land bestowed upon actual councilor Witte” on the 31 of October, 1868; the home address is also given: “at the corner of Remeslenna and Bazarna streets, in the Berido’s house, 31”. (5, c.73)

Ekaterina Andreyevna Witte and her son Sergey Witte (the Minister of Finance since 1893 till 1903) are the honorary citizens of Odessa. The source of the family’s income was not high but nevertheless all of them did as much as possible for charity. Every member of the family made a valuable contribution to the development of culture, science and social services.

In 1899 an essay about Boris Witte’s service was published in the“Odesskii Novosti”: “…in 1872 Witte was appointed as an assistant of a public prosecutor of the Odessa circuit court, in 1878 he was appointed as a prosecutor of the Simferopol circuit court,…in 1884 he took up a post of an assistant of the Odessa court. In 1892 B Witte was appointed as a chairman of the Kishinev circuit court, in 2 years later he became the prosecutor of the Odessa court, he had held that post for 4 years. Then he was appointed as a chief chairman of the Odessa court by the highest edict. Witte was given the Order of Saint Stanislav of the 1st and 2nd degrees, the Order of Saint Anna of the 1st and 2nd degrees; the Order of Saint Vladimir of the 3rd and 4th degrees. Witte had lived in Odessa since 1894 till his last days (1902) in the Raphalovich’s house, 4 Vorontsovsky Side Street. (5, c.80)

On the 16 of November, 1898 in Odessa there was opened the House of Industriousness, for those who needed a job. For a year 899 people had taken refuge and got a job. The House of Industriousness included also a school, an out-patient clinic, a bakery, a joiner’s workshop and a metalwork-blacksmith workshop. Among the members of the board there were Boris Witte and Nadyezhda Fadeyev. The trustee committee published the report on the work of the House of Industriousness of 1902; there was written that Boris Witte was “the soul “of the House and all the work concerning the organizational structure, inner life, financial support were all the result of his initiative and unflagging…energy”. (5, c.82)

His wife, Ekaterina Ksaveryevna Witte, had been also engaged in charitable work during all her life. She was the president of the Odessa Trustee Society providing care for sick children; the vice-president of the Odessa Trustee Department of the Empress Maria Aleksandrovna for helping the blind; she was a member of the Odessa Lady Committee which supplied linen and bandaging facilities to the injured soldiers in the Far East, she donated a large sum of money to them. Due to her energy a clinic for children and an orphanage for the blind were built. She was also the member of the Odessa Society of Treatment for tuberculosis, which was founded by Sofia Witte. Nadyezhda Andreyevna Fadeyev also participated in the work of that society. Ekaterina Witte was a member of the Odessa Committee for protecting the prisoners having served time and for the homeless; she was also the member of the central committee for helping the poor. Besides, she supervised examinations at school for the blind; she organized music parties, helped sick children to get treatment, collected charitable donations for the new departments (for the blind girls and the old) to provide them with equipment. (5, c.88-89)

There is an article in the Bolshaya Soviet Encyclopedia which is devoted to the members of the Fadeyev family (to Sergey Yulyevich Witte as well as to Helena Blavatsky): “…(1849-1915), Count, Russian statesman. The Minister of communication network in 1892; the Minister of Finance since 1892; chairman of the Cabinet since 1903; chairman of the Cabinet Counsel in 1905-1906. Initiator: of fine monopoly (1894), of finance reform (1897), of making the Siberian railway. Signed the Peace of Portsmouth (1903-1904). Author of the Manifesto on October the 17th, 1905. Carried out a policy of collaboration between the bourgeoisie and the tsar government. Author of the “Reminiscences”, v.1-3 (6, c.229) Unfortunately, his “Reminiscences” are not based on documentary accounts; the count wrote them from memory when he was abroad. By the way there is an opinion that the “Reminiscences” were rewritten and intentionally falsified.

Odessa was “the cradle” of the count Witte’s career – as A. Kaufman wrote in the “Historical Herald”. In 1872 in Odessa he held the position of the candidate for the job - an assistant of the chief of railway exploitation on technical motion. At that time Blavatsky visited Odessa, she was forty one years old. Witte was too much prim - he disliked her. (5, c.81)

“Witte liked Odessa citizens and Odessa itself, his “second motherland”, as he called it. Being a minister of communication network in Odessa he imposed new profitable tariffs in trade and industry; he assisted in constructing a new port trestle and various improved equipment in Odessa port. (5, c.99) He also assisted in opening the medical faculty at the Novorossiysk University. In 1894 he was rewarded with a title of an honorary citizen and his name was given to Dvoryansky Street where the university was located. Due to his application many publishing houses appeared in Odessa.

By 1900, being a finance minister, Witte had confirmed 3 polytechnics (Kyivskii, Varshavskii and Petrogradskii), 73 commercial schools. (5, c.104) He was a member of the Slavonic Charitable Society of St Kirill and Mifodiy which was founded in Odessa in 1870. Witte often visited his dear sister Sofia who dwelled in Odessa. They both were the life members of the Odessa Society of treatment for tuberculosis. Witte made a great contribution to the development and stocking the Odessa public library; that time the library was the second public library in the Russian empire. Nowadays the Odessa state scientific library is one of six largest libraries of Ukraine which have the state rank. Witte’s last visit to Odessa was in 1914. (5, c.107)

His sisters –Olga and Sofia Witte – were too close and lived together in Odessa. Olga was seriously ill with tuberculosis and, therefore, she was not very active in everyday life. She was not even 50 years old when she died. That event shocked Sofia, which was also too ill; she did everything in her power to overcome the illness. The sanatorium “White Flower” for children who suffer from tuberculosis still exists in Odessa; it is near the 11th station of the Chernomorsky railroad. The building of the sanatorium was finished in 1913, there were 60 hospital beds. Sofia Witte was one of the founders of the Society of treatment for tuberculosis and also the founder of the sanatorium; she had been the chairman of the board of the society for many years. Other members of the Fadeyev family – Nadyezhda Andreyevna Fadeyev and Ekaterina Ksaveryevna Witte – were also the life members of the society. Beginning from 1911 the day of “White Flower” was celebrated annually in Odessa; in 1912 sixty-four out-patient’s clinic for those who were ill with tuberculosis was opened due to charitable donations collected at that day, it was placed in the Yavorsky house at Nezhinsky Street. One year later patients who had visited it during the year numbered 5643.

Sofia Witte was a writer and since 80-s of the 19th century her works had been constantly printed in the large monthly magazines. Her three books were published in Odessa; her book “Leonid Andreyev” is kept in the scientific library of the Odessa State University. All income from the sale of the edition was donated to treatment for tuberculosis. Two other books are kept in the section of rare editions and manuscripts in the Odessa State Scientific Library named after M.Gorky. Besides, Sofia was a member: of the trustee society for helping the blind, of the Odessa section of the Russian society for woman protection, of the society for animal protection. It was stated in the accounts that she constantly made generous donations to all those societies. Sofia Witte died in 1917, she was buried near her sister’s burying place in the Novoye cemetery. Their graves are still there. (5, c.112-115)

Since 1868 Blavatsky’s uncle, Rostislav Andreyevich Fadeyev, a general in retirement, which was also a well-known writer and publicist, often visited his sisters in Odessa. Some pieces of his writings were penned there. His works were about politics and military actions of his time: the first book “60 years of the war in the Caucasus” was published in 1860, next works – “The armed forces of Russia”, “Opinion on the subject of the East with reference to the last reviews of “The armed forces of Russia”, “Chernomorsky military theatre: on the subject of the Crimean railway”, “Russian society in the past and future: (What are we going to be?)”. (5, c.120) Since the summer of 1870 he had lived for more than a year at his sisters’ place. It resulted in the book “What are we going to be?” He spent the whole year of 1873 with his dear sisters again. In July he was elected an honorary member of the Odessa Slavonic Charitable Society named after St Kyril and Mifody.

Rostislav Andreyevich as well as his niece Helena Blavatsky was absolutely unselfish, he bequeathed all his estate to his dear sisters. There was one more example of his nobility. Once he was told about the article written by the count Tolstoy in the “Moskovskii Vedomosti” about the hunger that was raging in the Samarsky province. Rostislav Andreyevich said: “I’ve got 300 roubles, I’ll send them to Samara”, although it was all money he had for his traveling to Petersburg. The next years he visited Odessa many times. In 1875 – in transit from Egypt; in 1877 he spent two months there. The Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolayevich and his military staff were in Odessa at that time. In August of 1878 before the war he visited Odessa on his way to Yalta to introduce two projects to the tsar – one of them is the project of steam-navigation on the Dunai River. In 1879 he spent in Odessa only one half a year, in 1882 he came to Odessa as his sister Ekaterina Witte gave her birthday party. (5, c.119-120)

Being told that Rostislav Andreyevich visited Odessa frequently, HPB wrote to her aunt Nadyezhda Andreyevna: “I hope that you’ll show this letter to my uncle and explain him the situation I got into, and I hope that you won’t accuse me any more of the insults to the Christ, what I have never done and not doing now”. (8, c.211) In spite of his disapproval of Helena’s theosophical view of the world, Rostislav Andreyevich showed compassion for her when it was a hard period in her life. It was the time when vicious slanders about her were spread, she was even told not to be a niece of General Fadeyev. HPB mentioned it in the letter to Prince A.Dondukov-Korsakov dated 5th December, 1981 from Bombay: “If General Fadeyev “, as sir A. Liyall and Mr. Hume declared to me “will recognize your handwriting and will reply to your letter having send it to Mr. Primrose for him to read it and afterwards to hand it over to you, then we’ll defeat our enemies”. Rostislav Fadeyev answered her letter. “My uncle wrote”, she continued in her letter to Dondukov-Korsakov “that he asked you as a governor of the province that I sailed from to other lands to post me an official certificate confirming that I am truly I am and nobody else”. (8, c.234)

At the end of September of 1883 Rostislav Fadeyev returned to his sisters to breathe his last and to be at that moment with his сlosest relatives. In January of 1884 he was burred in Odessa. (5, c.76) Vera Petrovna wrote in her reminiscences: “In Odessa, at the end of December, her (HPB) uncle died. Simultaneously with his death she saw him three times consecutively and wrote about it to her relatives: “I’m riding burdened with an overcoming grief: either my uncle died or I have fully deranged!” (5, c.130)

Nadyezhda Andreyevna Fadeyev whom Helena loved most was nearly of her age, only two years her senior; she was 90 when she died. It is known that since 1868 till her last days she had lived in Odessa, in the family of her sister Ekaterina Witte. Nadyezhda Fadeyev was a true collector. In her private museum “…there were national emblems and weapons of all the countries of the world, antique crockery, Chinese and Japanese statues of gods, byzantine mosaic, Persian and Turkish carpets, pictures, portraits, very rare and large library”. (5, c.133) Rostislav Andreyevich rated highly the collection of weapons which was send to N. Fadeyev by HPB. (5, c.127) Many military trophies were given to the museum by R. Fadeyev himself. The banner of the mutineer Shamil, presented to Rostislav Fadeyev, when he participated in the military actions in the Caucasus, was also kept in the museum. Unfortunately, further history of the collection is unknown. It wasn’t found in Odessa. Perhaps one part of it is in Saint Petersburg, because Nadyezhda Andreyevna gave many pieces of it to S. Witte when he was the Minister of Finance of Russia.

HPB wrote about her: “Most courteous, lovely woman. She is ready to give others – her life, money, everything she had got”. (5, c.134) Nadyezhda Andreyevna as all the members of the Fadeyev family had an extraordinary gift for writing. Her letters and articles were published in the most serious magazines. Her correspondence with HPB started from the letter written by Mahatma Koot Hoomi which he sent to her to Odessa, in November 1870, where he informed her that HPB was in good health and would appear in Odessa in 18 new moons. Mahatmas showed some attention to Nadyezhda Andreyevna. From HPB’s letter: “The well-wisher of my soul, dear Nadya…I’ll reveal all my inner world, my soul, my heart, my mind to You…” Their keen interest in theosophy was probably the main thing that made them to be very close. In 1878 HPB wrote to Nadyezhda: “From now on you’ll be a theosophist forever (Christian)”. (8, c.185) Nadyezhda Andreyevna was the first theosophist in Ukraine as well as in Russia. In August 1883 she took part in creating the Odessa unit of the TS, she became its chairwoman. (8, c.286)

The following extract from the article printed in “Theosophist”, №12, September 1883 was about the Russian Theosophical Society:

“The society already founded in Odessa is the first attempt to create such society in the Great Russian Empire. The society has its charter but the name of the society is not known yet.

The president-founder of the society sent the copy of the charter to N. Fadeyev, a respected member of our society’s council, having authorized her to create in the capital of southern Russia – Odessa…Mr. Tsorn, a well-known town merchant, was elected as the secretary of this unity…” The article was signed by Damodar K.Mavalankar, an assistant secretary and manager of the TS, a theosophist. (5, c.178)

In 1884 N.A. Fadeyev and Mr. Tsorn visited HPB in Elberfeld. In 1909 HPB’s nieces, Nadyezhda and Helena Zhelihovsky, met up with the delegation of the participants of the V International Congress of Theosophists headed by H. Pissareva. The delegation passed through Odessa, where it received a cordial welcome from the hosts; they were given some photos, portraits and other precious materials, afterwards they were arranged in the album of a large size which was kept in the Petersburg theosophical center. (2, c.624)

In 1914 “Izvestiya of the Russian Theosophical Society” enumerated the newly created units of the Russian theosophical society in Kyiv, Yalta, Moscow, Kaluga, Rostov-on the- Don, with their headquarters in Petrograd. (5, c.179) On 1September, 1915, the Kyiv theosophical society numbered 60 members, Moscow – 45, Rostov-on the-Don – 30, Kaluga – 20, Yalta – 12, Petersburg – more than 170.

Nadyezhda Andreyevna did a great deal after HPB’s passing to immortalize her. In 1911 in the preface to the 2nd issue of the collection works “Voprosy Theosophy” fully devoted to HPB’s memory, on her 80th birth anniversary and 20th anniversary of her passing, there was written: “We supplemented our edition with some photos and pictures which we were lucky to have due to the assistance of Nadyezhda Fadeyev, Helena Petrovna’s aunt”. (5, c.142)

N. Fadeyev actively participated in the life of the town. She was an actual member of many charitable societies of Odessa: the House of Industriousness, the Society of Treatment for tuberculosis, the Society for animal protection; although she was above 80. She made a gift of many rare books to the Odessa state library (about 200 volumes). (5, c.144) Nadyezhda Andreyevna died in 1919 and was buried in Staroye cemetery in the Fadeyev family’s vault.

At the end of spring 1881 Vera Zhelihovsky accompanied by her children arrived in Odessa, and Fadeyevs were all together again.

Vera Zhelihovsky was HPB’s sister and also one of her most devoted friends and defenders. Besides Vera as well as her mother became a well-known Russian authoress. Many books for children, Russian youth engrossed with, were written by her; her books for public reading were also very popular; lastly, she wrote her reminiscences for her children - “When I was small” and “My Adolescence”, HPB’s biography, which were translated into many languages. Vera wasn’t the member of the theosophical society but shared her sister’s theosophical beliefs and convictions. She considered that “theosophy in its pure, moral teaching is too close to Christianity, but unfortunately people of all religions and philosophical studies always manage to overshadow and stain the fundamental idea and essence of the saint truth. I’d like to be a theosophist and an orthodox Christian having liberated our religion and theosophy from all that of people’s nature, having kept only their essence…” she said. (5, c.34-35) As all the members of the Fadeyev family she was interested in mysterious phenomena of the human psyche, and her book “Inexplicable or unexplained” described phenomena that took place in the Fadeyev family.

Her husband died and left her and six children. When she moved to Odessa her younger daughters – Vera, Nadyezhda, Helena - and her son Vladimir accompanied her. Nadyezhda and Helena studied at the Maryinsky high school; the family lived in straitened circumstances and the only person who earned for living was their mother; she was writing for all the time. In spring 1884 after a separation of many years Vera Petrovna and Nadyezhda Andreyevna went to Paris to see HPB, and they stayed there from the 8th of March till the 16th of June. Vera posted her first article “H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophists (Foreign Letters)” from Paris to “Odesskii Vestnick”. The rest four parts under the common title of “In the Field of Occultism and Magnetism” were written and published in the same “Odesskii Vestnick” on her return from Paris. A series of her articles “Letters from Abroad” were printed in another newspaper - “Novorossiysk Telegraph”, in Odessa. (5, c.45-46) In 1884 Vera’s play “You can’t back out once you’ve begun” won the prize named after Ivan Georgiyevich Vutchin, and in 1885 in Odessa her novel “It was, passed and long forgotten” was printed as well. She met the doctor who treated Rayevsky and put down his recital of the duel M. Lermontov fought.

In autumn 1885 Vera Petrovna moved to Petersburg, probably by reason of material conditions and the necessity to earn a living. Before her departure she made a gift of a wide selection of her books to the Odessa state library. Those books were “Inexplicable and Unexplained”, “The Caucasus and Transcaucasian Region”, “The Life been Outlived”, “At the Eternal Fires”.

In 1892, after HPB’s passing, V.Solovyov’s book “The Modern Priestess of Isis” was published and Vera Petrovna immediately joined battle to uphold her sister’s honor. She published the book “H.P. Blavatsky and a Modern Priest of the Truth”. (5, c.47)

Vera Petrovna died of membranous pneumonia on the 17th of May, 1896, in Petersburg. In her last will and testament she was buried in Odessa, in Staroye cemetery. “She always tried to keep her spirits up”, R. Nikolayev wrote about her, “it was her distinctive quality as well as compassion for people’s misfortunes and sorrows. In spite of the straitened circumstances, she lived in, many people remember that she gave them financial support not to mention moral support”. (5, c.50)

Vera’s eldest daughter – Vera Vladimirovna, Johnston was her married name, translated Blavatsky’s letters to the Fadeyev family into English. Those letters had been publishing since December 1894 till December 1895 in the New York theosophical magazine “The Path”. She published also some books. Her husband, Charles Johnson, was a known publicist, a writer, a theosophist, an occultist, a translator into Sanscrit, Hindu and Bengali. He was a member of the London theosophical society and took part in creating the Dublin theosophical lodge. He was personally acquainted with H.P. Blavatsky.

Her sister, Nadyezhda Vladimirovna, married A. Brusilov, Commander-in Chief of all armed forces of the south-western front. Nadyezhda and Helen Zhelihovsky had lived in Odessa since 1909 till 1915.As all the members of the Fadeyev family they engaged in charitable activities, donated a lot to the needs of orthodox warriors, they were the members of such societies as “Brotherly Help”, the society for helping patients living in the coastal salt lake. Brusilova participated rather enthusiastically in different activities in 1916, in Odessa: in charitable work, in supplying the troops with gifts and medicines, in organizing sanitary bath-trains, infirmaries, hospitals, shelters for children and refugees. Due to her assistance the institute of “God-mothers” was founded for helping the soldiers maimed in war to get the needed help directly. In October, 1916, Nadyezhda Vladimirovna saved the future hero of the revolution - G. Kotovsky, sentenced to death in Odessa. Nadyezhda Brusilova and Helen Zhelihovsky spent the last period of their life in Czechoslovakia. They had carried on with theosophy during all their life. (5, c.63)

As the Fadeyev family lived in Ukraine, HPB, having a devoted and tender love for her motherland, visited it more than once. In 1848 “some months after her wedding with N. Blavatsky she returned to her close relatives rather unexpectedly and declared that she couldn’t live with her husband and intended to ride to her father who would be waiting for her in Odessa” as V. Zhelihovsky, HPB’s sister, wrote in the known bibliographic essay “Helen Petrovna Blavatsky”. (5, c.151) She set off for abroad from Odessa through Kerch.

Her next visit to Russia was 10 years later, in December 1858: firstly she rode to the Pskovsky province, where her sister lived, and in spring 1860 – to Kyiv, Tiflis, where her grandmother was buried, and on her return trip – to Odessa.

It was just when HPB had a momentous meeting with the Bishop Isidore, which stamped indelibly on her memory. It took place in the town of Zadonsk of the Voronezh province where at that time there was the Bishop of Kyiv, Isidore, whom both sisters had well known since childhood. On his way to Petersburg he called on the local monastery.

Vera Petrovna remembered: “I was very eager to meet him. He recognized us and sent a message saying that he would be glad to see us after the prayer. We went to the cathedral. I had a sense of foreboding and on the way I said to my sister: “Please try to make your nice imps be silent during our visit to the Bishop, I beg of you”. She answered with laughter that she wished the same but couldn’t vouch for them. I knew it too, therefore I wasn’t surprised when the bishop began to ask her about her travels the raps came to be heard – one, two, three…I experienced terrible torments. It was clear that he did notice those obtrusive intruders who seemed to join our company and to take part in the conversation. In order to interrupt us, they set furniture and mirrors in motion; they moved our glasses, even an amber rosary that the old man held in his hands.

He noticed at once that we were embarrassed, and having realized our state he asked which of us was the medium. Being very selfish I hastened to point to my sister. The bishop was conversing with us for more than an hour. When he my sister answered his questions in more detail, it seemed that he was quite content with that he had seen the phenomenon”. (7, c.108-109)

At parting he blessed and counseled Helen about the exceptional gift she was given and added precious and memorable words which remained with her forever, as the opinion of an enlightened priest of the Orthodox Church. He said: “There is no power that is not from God! No need to be embarrassed about it unless you misuse the special gift given to you…Are there not many unexplained powers in Nature? The knowledge of all of them is not given to a man but a man is not forbidden to perceive and use them. I n time the man will master them and use for the good of all the humanity. May God bless you for all things good and kind”. (9, c.11) What prophetic words!

Probably due to that meeting HPB’s attitude to the Orthodox Church was always deeply respectful. In general it is desirable to “dot ones I’s and cross ones t’s” as for Blavatsky’s attitude to the Christianity. There was formed a false opinion that HPB denied Christianity and preferred Buddhism to it. Let’s think over what she wrote to her aunt, Nadyezhda Andreyevna Fadeyev: “…my books are not against religion, not against the Christ, but they are against the cowardly hypocrisy of those who tortured, burned in the fire, killed in the name of the All-mighty Son of God after the very first moment he died on the cross for all humanity…and all those things were done in His name! Where is the Truth? Where can it be found? There are 232 sects among three basic so called Christian churches – in England, Germany and other Protestant countries, in America they number 176; and each of them professes to be the only honored ones. Each of them wishes its own dogmas people think to be true and the dogmas of other sects – untrue”. (8, c.166) “I don’t believe in the Christian dogmas as well as the Buddhist or Brahmans’ ones. Christ, Buddha and Hindu Krishna never preached any dogma, any tenet of faith except the only one great truth: “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Love God above yourself”. (8, c.192)

“...the people are sincere in its faith; it might be blind, unreasonable, but this faith leads the people to good…The teacher acknowledges it and says that the only people in the world whose faith is not speculative is Orthodox”. (8, c.167) She clarified it in her letters again: “I don’t argue against Christ, against Jesus. I’m not against true Christianity – I’m against…untrue Christianity”. (8, c.209) “…the faith of my Russian ancestors is sacred to me; I will always stand up for this faith and Russia…” (8, c.605-606)

She cleared it up in another letter to her sister: “Don’t believe that theosophy aims at refutation or, what is even worse, at elimination Christianity. It doesn’t dispose the seeds of the truth but just weeds: bias, blasphemous religious prejudices, Jesuit fanaticism…As we think too high of man’s freedom of conscience and one’s spiritual aspirations so we don’t mention in our propaganda religious principles. Every self-respecting and thinking man has one’s own holy of holies which we, theosophists, demand to respect”. (8, c.599) Was it the probable reason for just the Orthodox Church to anathematize H.P. Blavatsky, whom her ancestors’ faith was sacred to?

Perhaps she visited Ukraine in 1862, because there is the “Passport” in the theosophical archives, the passport was given to Blavatsky and her ward child Jura by the office of the tsar’s deputy head in the Caucasus; it gave a permit to visit Tavrida, Kherson and the Pskovsky province for a period of one year. It was dated 23rd August, 1862. (7, c.179)

There are some interesting records of Blavatsky’s visits and stays in Kyiv, for instance in 1864 and later. (7, c.302) Unfortunately, those periods of Blavatsky’s life are not explored in detail and the purpose of her visit as well as the places, she stayed in, are sometimes unknown.

Her next visit to Ukraine was, probably, in 1867, she hadn’t let her relatives know about her arrival beforehand; at that time her true friend, Agardi Mitrovitch, gave some performances in the Kyiv Opera-house. In her letter to Prince Dondukov-Korsakov she wrote: “I had been in Egypt since 1865 till 1868 while everybody thought me to be living in Italy or somewhere else; from there I ought to have ridden to India but I refused. Just that time I returned to Russia in spite of my teacher’s advice to go to the lamas’ monastery Top-Lyng, beyond Himalayas, where I had felt so good. But having changed the route, I returned to Kyiv, as I craved to see again […] (forgive me, but apparently I unable to utter it) – say, my native country, and I came to Kyiv where I lost everything, I hold dear, and even was near to losing my reason”. (8, c.225) That period of Blavatsky’s life was described by Mary K. Neff, in the chapter “Child”. [7] Her child adopted in 1858 and, whom she loved most of all, died in Kyiv. “…the child died, and as I hadn’t got any document I didn’t want to give him my name, to prevent gossiping, Mitrovitch took all responsibility and in 1867 he buried the child of some aristocratic Baron “under his own name”, at some small town of the southern Russia…” (3, c.289)

Blavatsky’s last arrival to Ukraine and to Russia, in general, was in 1872. “I returned to Odessa in May 1872 – “eighteen months later that date when my aunt received the letter from the Teacher” – HPB wrote to A.P. Sinnett. (3, c.430) It was a difficult period in her life. She tried to make the best of it and to remain in her native country. She dwelled “…in the house of her aunt, General Witte’s wife, at 36 Politzeysky Street, in the Gaaz’s house”, as HPB wrote in December 1872. (5, c.154) Unfortunately, the house hasn’t been saved by now.

Blavatsky was to earn her living. So in 12 September, 1872, an advertisement appeared in the “Odessa Announcement Sheet”: “Ink by the chemist Sebir and Co.” (5, c.162) Actually, it meant that Blavatsky opened the ink factory and a related shop just in the house where she lived. She did it in the name of Mrs. Sebir, her lady-friend in Cairo, whom she came to Odessa with. Then she opened a florist’s. Colonel Olcott told about the concerts of piano music Blavatsky played under the name of Laura in Russia in 1872 and 1873. (7, c.161) Obviously, those kinds of activities brought her neither contentment nor means. She wrote the letter to the gendarme chief of the 3rd Department, dated from the 26 December, 1872, and offered her services: “…I’m gifted enough to be useful to my motherland”. (5, c.165) But her query was not answered. There was no need for her in her country.

V.P. Zhelihovska described that period: “At the beginning of the 70-s Madam Blavatsky visited the south of Russia one more time and then left her motherland forever, where she couldn’t find the application of her “extraordinary” gifts because she hadn’t got any personal recommendation and patronage. The sphere of the Russian press became opened up for her only when the press of the Old and the New World started to write about her”. (5, c.165)

Besides, that was the period when the transformation of her world view on her way to theosophy began. Six years later, in her letter to her dear auntie N.A. Fadeyev she wrote: “I shall never forget one characteristic day, or rather night, in Odessa, in your house at a dinner. Auntie was quarrelling with me about religion and was firmly stating that no Jew or an idol-worshipper can ever enter the Kingdom of God and will never be found there. From that the very moment I began to brood over those words. “If even my auntie”, I thought, - “such a kind, noble and just woman is so blinded by the Christian dogmas and is able to have belief in such a terrible, horrifying injustice of God, then what must be other Christians, many of whom cannot hold a candle to her?” Before that talk I still had something of the Christian faith. But some months later, not reached the state of a complete atheist, I became a plain theist…Having no dogmas, no calls for our members to believe this and not that, we respect both Indians and Christians…” (8, c.182)

In March 1873 Helena Petrovna, having got the letter from her teacher, left her native country forever, but her link with her relatives and her country wasn’t interrupted, her thoughts were about all of them. She sought to remind them about herself, used any chance to write to them.

In five years, having already created the theosophical society and having finished “Isis Unveiled”, she sent her first article from New York “From across the sea, the deep blue ocean” which appeared in the Odessa newspaper “Pravda” with the annotation: “Satirical articles of one of the most famous authoresses in America, which describe the life in that country, will be publishing in our newspaper under the title mentioned above”. (5, c.169) That newspaper printed not only the articles of the famous Odessa writers but also Emil Zola, Alphonse Dude, Victor Hugo. Subsequently, her essays about the characteristic features of the Americans and their political views would be published under the title “Letters from America”, under the heading “From the New York correspondent of “Pravda” signed by Helena Blavatsky. She didn’t hide her name. One of the most interesting articles sent to the Odessa newspaper “Pravda” and printed on the 4 June, 1878, was about Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph. The article was based on the interview with Edison. She published 7 articles in “Pravda” before her departure to India on 18 December 1878. A favorable article about Helena Petrovna and the activity of the theosophical society in India was published in the section “Kaleidoscope”, in 35 issue of “Pravda”, in February 1880. There were also some articles about her in the “Odesskii Listok”: from 15September 1883 and 25 September 1883; the last article was signed “F.T.s” – the abbreviation of the English worlds “Friend of the Theosophical society”. (5, c.176-177)

Then her articles would be printed in many Russian editions. Her letters from India under the title “From the caves and jungles of Hindustan” and “Mysterious Tribes” would be published in the “Russkey Vestnick”, and in 1880 – in the “Moskovskii Vedomosti”, since 1886 – in the magazine “Rebus”.

Soon after her passing, on 8 May 1891, the largest Ukrainian newspapers printed obituaries about an enigmatic and talented woman of the XIX century: “Novorossiysky Telegraph” on 14 May, “Odesskii Novosti” - on 14, 15, 18, 22 May, “Odesskii Vestnick” - on 16 May, “Odesskii Listok” – on 17 May 1891. (5, c.197-200)

In spite of the fact that she lived abroad and had got an American citizenship she unselfishly loved her Motherland, she was a true patriot, suffering from any defeats of Russia and attacks on it; she considered herself to be “Russian by birth”. (9, c.28)

Having become naturalized in America, she continued to send money to the Russian injured, as did it before, at the war period; even her first earnings from the publishing “Isis” were sent to them. All her earnings from the articles, she published in the Russian newspapers, were donated to the Red Cross. (9, c.21)

V.P. Zhelihovska described the last meeting with her sister in London, in 1890: “It was the most favorite pleasure for her to listen to the Russian plain songs at those last evenings…She asked both of my daughters in a fawning tone of her voice over and over again: “ Please, will you sing anything, my dear!...Only Nochenka!..Or Travushka…Please, sing something ours, native…” (5, c.201)

Helena Petrovna passed away. But the Theosophical society is almost 130 years. The ideas, she had given to the world, inspired and continue to inspire the prominent scientists, philosophers, writers, people, which have entered the spiritual path, all around the world. There is a lot of admirers and supporters of Blavatsky nowadays as it had been throughout her life. But there are many people who continue to vilify and slander her good name.

“It is difficult to imagine something more strange and unjust than the persistent incomprehension and even hostility the Russian well-educated society still continues to treat its genius compatriot with…in all fairness to her, she must be the glory and the pride of her country…”as it was written in the “Questions of the theosophy”, 2 issue, 1991; and it is still important nowadays.

“I didn’t spend much time in my country in so called “society” but I know it pretty good…Well, being humiliated, defamed, slandered and sullied, I can say that it would be beneath my dignity to be pitied and judged by them. If even I were as they had pictured me; if I had the horde of lovers and children, who would be pure enough in all that society to be the first to throw a stone at me?...” (7, c.169), as wrote Helena Petrovna.

In her letter to N.A. Fadeyev Blavatsky wrote about herself: “I am a psychological problem, a rebus and an enigma to the future generations, I am the sphinx!” (9, c.17)

In his article James Pryse wrote: “The truly great stand far in advance of their fellows, and are appreciated fully only by the generations that comes after; they are understood by but few in their own times. Near scrutiny is only for small things; that which is big has to be observed at a proportionate distance to be judged adequately…she had been cast in a titan mould. In this age of complaisant orthodoxies, conventionalized schools of thought, of commonplaces hackneyed and inane, she seemed strangely out of place; like an old-time prophet, boisterous as Elijah, grandiose as Isaiah, mysterious as Ezekiel, she hurled scathing Jeremiads at the puerilities and hypocrisies of the nineteenth century. She was a forerunner shouting loudly in the wilderness of beliefs. She did not belong to the present age. Her message came from the mighty past, and she delivered it not to the present but to the future”. (2, c.625)

After her body died a few notes written by Blavatsky were discovered in the box of her desk: “There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind – but yet a road; and it leads to the Heart of the Universe. I can tell you how to find Those who will show you the secret gateway that leads inward only…For those who win onwards, there is reward past all telling: the power to bless and save humanity. For those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come”. (2, c.626)

Let’s pay tribute to our countrywoman who was given the power to carry the blessing and salvation to the humanity, let’s her memory live forever!



  1. Говард Мэрфи «Елена Блаватская», Урал LTD, 1999
  2. С. Крэнстон «Е.П.Блаватская. Жизнь и творчество основательницы современного теософского движения», Рига-Москва: Лигатма, 1997
  3. Е.П.Блаватская «Письма к Синнету», М.: Сфера, 1997
  4. Е.Ф. Писарева «Елена Петровна Блаватская», К.: МП «Элисс», 1991
  5. О. Богданович «Блаватская и Одесса», Одесса: Путь познания, 1999
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