Monday, November 11, 2019

Elsa-Brita Titchenell

Elsa-Brita Titchenell (b. Uppsala, Sweden, 31 May 1915; d. Altadena, California, 10 February 2002)

Elsa-Brita Bergqvist was the daughter of Carl Wilhelm and Fanny (Hagelin) Bergqvist. She was educated in Stockholm, Shanghai, and England. From 1937-47 she worked on the staff of the Royal Swedish Legation and Consulate General in Shanghai.  During World War II she worked to ameliorate conditions for Allied prisoners.

In 1939 she joined the Theosophical Society, and in the early 1940s she contributed a series of "Broadcasts from Shanghai" to The Theosophical Forum. In 1948 she immigrated to California to serve at the International Headquarters of the Theosophical Society. She married Leslie Trippit Titchenell (1914-1978) in Los Angeles, on 22 September 1949. She worked for eight years on the administrative staff of the California Institute of Technology, retiring in 1980.

Titchenell wrote many articles and book reviews for Sunrise (for which she also served as a contributing editor, and later, from 1989 until her death, as Associate Editor). She published two books. Her first was Once Around the Sun (1981), a children's fantasy about Peter, a seven year old boy, who is shown the universe by the tiny Uncle Peppercorn, who allows Peter to have a Big Year, during which he is able to communicate with beings of the natural world and learn from them. The book is illustrated by Justin C. Gruelle (1889-1978), a well-known artist (who worked at the Disney Studios for a time in the 1940s-50s) and younger brother of Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938), an artist best-known as the creator of Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy dolls. The illustrations in Once Round the Sun were colored by Elizabeth A. Russell.

Titchenell's second book was The Masks of Odin: Wisdom of the Ancient Norse (1985). Based on a series of articles published in Sunrise in 1954-55, it is one of the few instances in which a scholarly approach is applied to the Old Norse myths as a living religion.  Over half the book is comprised of Titchenell's new translations of the principal poems of The Elder Edda