Zirkoff, Boris de (1902-1981)

Grandnephew of Helena P. Blavatsky, who edited her Collected Writings, Boris de Zirkoff was born on March 7, 1902, in St. Petersburg, Russia, to Lydia Dmitriyevna von Hahn, Blavatsky’s niece. A frail child, tutored at home and mastering several languages, de Zirkoff knew little of his great aunt until he was about sixteen. Escaping across Finland in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, he settled in Stockholm (1917) with his mother and stepfather. At the home of the Russian Consul, he saw The Secret Doctrine for the first time. Its study became his first step in a lifetime dedication to Theosophy.

Zirkoff met Katherine Tingley during her European tour as head of the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society. She invited him to come to headquarters at Point Loma, California, where, in 1924, he resolved to compile Blavatsky's writings. This project led to a worldwide correspondence and more than 50 years of research. Dovetailing with Gottfried de Purucker’s Fraternization Movement, in 1930 a uniform edition of Blavatsky's writings became an inter-organizational venture. The first four volumes were published by Rider as The Complete Works of H. P. Blavatsky between 1933 and 1936; however, the Rider edition plates were destroyed in the German bombing of London during World War II.

In 1942 Boris moved to Los Angeles, where, working independently, he expanded the lost volumes and with the support of Manly P. Hall, as well as the HPB Writings Fund, published volumes 5 and 6 in 1950 and 1954. In 1956 the Theosophical Society (Adyar) became the sole publisher and distributor of the Blavatsky Collected Writings.

With the help of a small volunteer staff, de Zirkoff edited the journal Theosophia from 1940 to 1981. He also lectured and contributed to Theosophical journals around the world. He was awarded the Subba Row Medal in 1980.

Boris de Zirkoff died on March 4, 1981, after having seen into print the first twelve volumes of Blavatsky's Collected Writings, as well as new editions of Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine. The remaining numbered series (volumes 13 and 14) were completed in 1982 and 1985 from his manuscripts. A Cumulative Index (volume 15), prepared by Dara Eklund, was published in 1991, leaving only The Key to Theosophy, The Voice of the Silence, Letters, and her Russian writings, to be completed. 

Collected Writings online - http://www.katinkahesselink.net/blavatsky/

Theosophia online - http://www.teozofija.info/Theosophia/Theosophia_index.htm


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