Sue Young Histories

Daniel Nicol Dunlop 1868 — 1935

September 21, 2008

Daniel Nicol Dunlop 1868 — 1935 was the founder of the World Power Conference, and a theosophist turned anthroposophist. He was an artist, and the father of Ronald Ossory Dunlop.

Dunlop was influential in the anthroposophist movement and he was a close friend of James Joyce, Walter Johannes Stein, Rudolf Steiner, and William Butler Yeats, .

Dunlop, George William Russell and William Butler Yeats published The Irish Theosophist from the home of Dunlop’s wife Eleanor’s father, the Shakespearean scholar R  H  Fitzpatrick.

Dunlop conducted an interview with William Butler Yeats in the The Irish Theosophist in 1893.

Dunlop lost his mother at the age of five and was brought up by his grandfather on the Isle of Arran.

Dunlop was born on 28 Dezember 1868 in Kilmarnock as the only child of Alexander Dunlop and Catherine Nicol (1847-1873). His father was an architect and preacher for the Quakers.

After the early death of his mother when Dunlop was four years old, he came under the custody of his grandfather Daniel Nicol on the island of Isle of Arran. After his grandfather’s death Dunlop moved back to live with his father Alexander in Kilmarnock. Here, he attended the primary school and then completed an apprenticeship in Ardrossan (North Ayrshire) in a machinery factory.

Dunlop married Eleanor Fitzpatrick (ca. 1867-1932) and they had three children, including Ronald Ossory Dunlop, a famous painter.

After differences with his father, Dunlop left his father’s house and worked as a bicycle dealer in Glasgow. Dunlop then went to Dublin, where he got a job with a tea and wine merchants.

Dunlop moved to America with his family where he worked in a machinery factory. Dunlop received the post of sales manager for Europe for the company Westinghouse Electric Corporation and then returned in the same year to London.

From 1911 he was the organizer and first director of the newly launched British and Allied Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (BEAMA) (Association of British electrical manufacturers. Dunlop organized the World Power Conference (WPC) (World Energy Conference), the precursor of today’s World Energy Council (WEC). Dunlop was elected as Chairman.

In Glasgow, Dunlop became interested in the occult and in philosophical matters. Dunlop met George William Russell (Æ) which resulted in a lifelong friendship.

After moving to Dublin 1891, he became a member of the local lodge of the Theosophical Society where he metWilliam Butler Yeats in the hermetic Society. In October 1892 he founded the journal The Irish Theosophist, for which he also acted as a publisher. The last edition of the Journal was published in September 1897, when Dunlop and his family moved to America

Dunlop eventually moved to Dublin where he befriended the poets George William Russell and William Butler Yeats, and became active in the Irish Theosophical Society. He was also known to James Joyce, and gets a mention in Ulysses.

Dunlop was a member of the Theosophical Society in America. During his American stay in 1897-1899 he acted as a private secretary of Katherine Tingley (who entertained homeopaths), president of the Theosophical Society in America.

Dunlop resigned from the Theosophical Society in America and became a member of the Theosophical Society Adyar in London (probably in the Blavatsky Lodge). He held summer schools and regular meetings with international theosophical lecture cycles at the Manchester Institute.

With the Blavatsky Lodge with Charles Lazenby, he edited the journal The Path (not to be confused with the same journal by William Quan Judge). During this period, he founded a theosophical Lodge under the umbrella of the Adyar-TG called Light on the Path (light on the path), and became its president.

The onset of the cult of Jiddu Krishnamurti and the Order of the Star in the East made him reluctant, which led to an increasing alienation from theosophy. On 8 May 1922, he resigned from the Adyar-TG. In 1905 Dunlop first met with Rudolf Steiner, who was still Secretary of the German section of the Theosophical Society (DSdTG). Dunlop was deeply impressed with Rudolf Steinerand later invited him to England.

In December 1920, he joined the Anthroposophical Society, under whose umbrella he called the Human Freedom Group (Group of human freedom/self determination) which he led as president. He started Anthroposophical summer schools.

In London, Dunlop organized the first and only Anthroposophical World Conference and became the Secretary General of the Anthroposophical Society in Britain. Disputes and struggles within the Anthroposophical Society in April 1935 led to the fragmentation of the organization and Dunlop eventually left the Anthroposophical Society.

From Dunlop later moved to America, and in 1896 was employed by the American Westinghouse Electrical Company, becoming later assistant manager, and then manager of its European Publicity Department. In 1911 he helped to found, and became secretary and then director of the British and Allied Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (BEAMA) in London.

Dunlop did an immense amount in assisting the development of the British electrical industry generally, and towards the close of his life was elected independent chairman of the Electrical Fair Trading Council and chairman of the executive council of the World Power Conference (the precursor to the World Energy Council).

A year of two after World War I, Dunlop began to organise the World Power Conference, which subsequently became the World Energy Council.

Dunlop eventually dedicated himself to anthroposophy after meeting its founder Rudolf Steiner in England. When in England Dunlop also enlisted the help of fellow anthroposophist Walter Johannes Stein in the hope of founding a World Economic Conference, but his untimely death prevented this.

Thomas Meyer has written Dunlop’s biography: D.N. Dunlop: A Man of Our Time.

Dunlop died on 30 May 1935 in London as a result of appendicitis.


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