Sue Young Histories

Roland Meredith Starr 1890 - 1971

May 10, 2009

Roland Meredith Starr 1890 - 1971 was a British psychologist, homeopath and occultist.

Meredith Starr is credited with introducing the Indian guru Meher Baba to the West.

Starr, whose birth name was Herbert Close, was born in Prestbury House, Hampton, at Richmond in the County of Middlesex, England to well to do land owning parents (“landed proprietors”) William Brooks Close and Mary Baker Brooks Close.

When Starr was one year old his parents separated and he was raised by his mother. He received his education at Winchester College in Hampshire.

Starr was a psychologist, homeopath, occultist and an editorial writer. He was also the principal player in bringing the Indian guru Meher Baba to the West for the first time at the start of the 1930s, although he himself did not remain a follower for very long.

In the early 20th century, Starr wrote for The Occult Review, an illustrated monthly journal containing articles and correspondence by many notable occultists of the day, including Aleister Crowley, Arthur Edward Waite, Walter Leslie Wilmshurst, Frantz Hartmann, Florence Farr, and Herbert Stanley Redgrove.

He probably changed his name to Meredith Starr when he was twenty in relation to his work as a reviewer and contributer for The Occult Review. He also wrote for Aleister Crowley’s publication The Equinox, publishing Memory of Love (under the name “Herbert Close”), VII, 291

  • Vol 7, in 1911.

Meredith Starr met Meher Baba in Toka, India on June 30, 1928. In 1931 Starr established a retreat center at East Challacombe, North Devon (a couple of miles from Combe Martin), where he invited Meher Baba to come and meet westerners. It was at the Devon retreat that many of Meher Baba’s lasting followers from Europe and the United States first met Meher Baba.

Meredith was famously lacking in a sense of humor and had a particular sense of how spiritual conduct should be, thus enforcing strong codes of serious contemplative conduct that made even Meher Baba uncomfortable. Yet he is considered to have played a central role in introducing Meher Baba to the western world.

In December 1932, Starr grew irritated with Meher Baba and wrote to him, “Give me either the 400 pounds you owe me or illumination; otherwise, I will leave you and expose you as a fraud!”

He then did leave Meher Baba. The money he referred to was money he had spent hosting Meher Baba at his retreat in Devon. Starr disbanded the Devon retreat and sold the property a year and a half later.

He was married firstly on March 1, 1917 at Paddington Register Office to the Honourable Mary Grey, daughter of the 8th Earl of Stamford, from whom he was divorced by decree nisi April 10, 1930, on his admission of an adulterous relationship of four years’ duration with a Miss Margaret Ross of East Challacombe, Combe Martin, Devon.

He is buried in the Municipal Cemetery, Kirkley, Suffolk.

Of interest:

Herbert Close wrote The Skylark in 1912.


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