H. J. Blackham

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Harold John Blackham
Harold Blackham (1974).jpg
Harold Blackham (1974)
Born (1903-03-31)31 March 1903
Birmingham, England,
Died 23 January 2009(2009-01-23) (aged 105)
Brockhampton, Herefordshire, England
Occupation Writer and philosopher

Harold John Blackham (31 March 1903 – 23 January 2009) was a leading British humanist philosopher, writer and educationalist. He has been described as the "progenitor of modern humanism in Britain".[1]

Born in Birmingham, Blackham left school following the end of World War I, and became a farm labourer, before gaining a place at Birmingham University to study divinity and history.[2] He acquired a teaching diploma and was the divinity master at Doncaster Grammar School.[2]

Joining the Ethical Union, Blackham drew the organisation further away from religious forms and played an important part in its formation into the British Humanist Association, becoming the BHA's first Executive Director in 1963. He was also a founding member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), IHEU secretary (1952–1966), and received the IHEU's International Humanist Award in 1974, and the Special Award for Service to World Humanism in 1978. In addition he was one of the signatories to the Humanist Manifesto.[3]

His book, Six Existentialist Thinkers, became a popular university textbook.

He died on 23 January 2009 at the age of 105.[4]


  • Bury, JB, with an historical epilogue by HJ Blackham. A History of Freedom of Thought (2001). University Press of the Pacific. ISBN 0-89875-166-7
  • The Future of our Past: from Ancient Greece to Global Village (1996). Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-042-8
  • The Fable as Literature (1985). London: Continuum International Publishing Group - Athlone. ISBN 0-485-11278-7
  • Education for Personal Autonomy: Inquiry into the School's Resources for Furthering the Personal Development of Pupils (editor) (1977). London: Bedford Sq. Press. ISBN 0-7199-0937-6
  • Humanists and Quakers: an exchange of letters (with Harold Loukes) (1969). Friends Home Service. ISBN 0-85245-011-7
  • Humanism (1968). London: Penguin. (published by Harvester in hardback, 1976. ISBN 0-85527-209-0)
  • Religion in a Modern Society (1966). London: Constable
  • Objections to Humanism (editor) (1963). London: Constable. ISBN 0-09-450170-X (published in paperback by Penguin, 1965, ISBN 0-14-020765-1)
  • The Human Tradition (1953). London: Routledge.
  • Six Existentialist Thinkers (1952). London: Routledge. ISBN 0-7100-1087-7
  • Living as a Humanist (1950)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Barbara Smoker (2003). Blackham's Best. Blackham's Best - Selected by Barbara Smoker. ISBN 095126351X. 
  2. ^ a b Barbara Smoker (19 April 2009). Harold Blackham SPES Memorial Meeting. SPES Memorial Meeting pamphlet. 
  3. ^ "Humanist Manifesto II". American Humanist Association. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.iheu.org/node/3402[permanent dead link]