A RADICAL LIFE: George Jacob Holyoake, the Invention of Secularism,

and the Making of the Modern World

McFarland & Co. (USA), Spring 2021

Jailed for atheism, disowned by his family, George Jacob Holyoake came out of an English prison at the age of 25 determined to bring an end to religion’s control over daily life. In this first modern biography of the founder of Secularism – Holyoake invented the term in 1851 and set the principles that guide it to this day – Ray Argyle reveals the largely untold story of a transformative figure whose controversial and conflict-filled life helped shape the modern world. Holyoake was in the forefront of every movement for social reform and was hailed on his death in 1906 for having won “the freedoms we take for granted today.” With Secularism under siege from religious forces ranging from Christian Evangelism to Islamic Fundamentalism, George Holyoake’s vision of a “virtuous society” rings today with renewed clarity,


Holyoake at Forty: An Impression (Sarah Watson © 2020)



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