Norna Kollerstrom on Leadbeater


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Miss Norna Kollerstrom Morton, an official lecturer of the Theosophical Society  in Australia, in addressing a public meeting last night, said that for over ten years she had been a pupil of the eminent, though much maligned, Theosophical leader Bishop C. W. Leadbeater. She desired to inform her audience about her revered teacher and gave an outline sketch of his life. As a descendant, from the Emperor Charlemagne, he had a noble lineage dating from the eighth century, and all were impressed by the courtliness of this true aristocrat.

From the age of 13 when he walked alone across South America, until now, Bishop Leadbeater’s life had been full of fascinating experiences. During a rising among the Indians in South America he joined his father in defending the European Settlement, and his younger brother was killed in cold blood, by one of the leaders. The boy Charles vowed revenge for this deed and it happened that he had later the opportunity of meeting and fighting with this opponent, but just as he, was about to drive home the sword in his hand was stayed, by a vision of his dead brother, which appeared before him. This was the first encounter with a ghost by this youth, who later made such an exhaustive study of spiritualistic phenomena.

Returning to England, he went in due course to Oxford, but his career there was short, owing to a notable bank smash, which ruined so many of the great families in England.

A short time ad a bank clerk followed, and then he took orders in the Anglican Church. As a worker in St. Ethelberga and St.Alban’s Holborn, he passed several years, being ordained as priest in 1879.

It was during this period that he first heard Mrs Annie Besant speak as a Freethinker, attacking the superstitions taught in the name of Christianity, little thinking then that he would collaborate with this remarkable woman later in working for the Theosophical Society.

Spiritualism was a subject that interested Mr Leadbeater for many years. He personally travelled over the whole of Europe, investigating every kind, of spiritualistic phenomenon, even going to Transylvania to encounter vampires and werewolves.

The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Queensland) 14 August 28

It is probably unnecessary to note that the descent from Charlemagne and the “noble lineage”; the walk “across South America” at the age of thirteen; the excitement of the “rising among the Indians in South America”; the murder of the (non-existent) brother; the short time at Oxford; the loss of the family fortune in the bank “smash”; the time at St. Ethelberga and St. Alban’s, Holborn; and the travels “over the whole of Europe”, let alone the visit “to Transylvania to encounter vampires and werewolves” are all elements of fiction fabricated by Leadbeater and, naively, repeated by Mrs Kollerstrom Morton.

Norna Kollerstrom (b. 1905) was the daughter of the eminent Sydney Theosophist, Gustav Kollerstrom, and his wife, Mary Gertrude Kollerstrom (nee Hill), and the sister of Oscar Kollerstrom (b.1903), a leading boy pupil of both Leadbeater and Wedgwood, and Edith Kollerstrom (b. 1906). In 1928 she married Harold Morton, another of Leadbeater’s leading pupils, and later a priest of the Liberal Catholic Church and General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in Australia.

See her autobiography: Norna Kollerstrom Morton Hands Full of Life: Reflections and Anecdotes Springwood, N.S.W.: Butterfly Books, 1993




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