Mel Thompson

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Mel Thompson
Scientific career
FieldsEthics, Philosophy, Religion
WebsitePhilosophy and Ethics

Mel Thompson (born 1946) writes book on Philosophy and Ethics for the general reader and for students. He was formerly a teacher, editor and A level examiner. He is also a keen amateur photographer, whose landscape and travel images are available on Shutterstock.

Life and education[edit]

Born in 1946, he was educated at King Edward VI School, Chelmsford and King's College London where he received a BD in 1969 (Shelford Prize for Philosophy of Religion; Tinniswood Essay Prize), M.Phil (as an external student) in 1973, and a Ph.D. in 1979. He worked for some years as an ordained minister within the Church of England before resigning to work within Religious Education and as a freelance writer. From 1990 to 1998 he was editor of the Religious Education list at Hodder Education.

He is a member of the Society of Authors, London, and was formerly a member and Chair of the Educational Writers Group. He is interested in exploring ways in which new technology can enhance opportunities for writers, particularly with reference to self-publication.

Concerned that copyright should be respected and authors paid when their work is used, Mel Thompson was, from 2003 to 2010, a non-executive director of the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society, and was also a non-executive director and Chair of the Copyright Licensing Agency. For his views on copyright see the YouTube video published by the Copyright Licensing Agency in 2012.[1]

He was recently involved with a new A-level textbook for AQA Religious Studies, co-authored with Dr John Frye and Dr Debbie Herring, and has written a 6th edition of his most popular Teach Yourself book on Philosophy - entitled Philosophy for Life and revised to include introductions and chapters exploring the way in which philosophy may help us address personal and existential questions, published in the Teach Yourself series in October 2017. His first self-published book Through Mud and Barbed Wire is an account of the impact of the First World War on the thinking of two great theologians, Paul Tillich and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin - who just happened to be fighting on opposite sides of the same part of the Western Front in 1916 and whose lives were transformed by the experience. His latest book, Ethics for Life, the revised 6th edition of his original Ethics book for the Teach Yourself series, was published in October 2018.

Convinced that some things are easier to ‘see’ than to explain, Mel Thompson is a keen photographer, with a section on ‘visual philosophy’ on his website and a range of galleries.[2] He also recognises the importance of personal roots, takes an interest in local history and is a volunteer at the Little Baddow History Centre where he manages the Centre website.[3]


His many publications include philosophy titles published by Teach Yourself books [4](Ethics, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Eastern Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind and Philosophy of Science) and textbooks for Religious Studies, including Ethical Theory, Religion and Science and An Introduction to Philosophy and Ethics in Hodder Education’s Access to Philosophy series. He published The Buddhist Experience in 1993.[5][6] He has contributed to Nelson Thornes’ Understanding Philosophy for A2 Level, edited a large-format, illustrated handbook of philosophy entitled World Philosophy [7] and has co-authored with Nigel Rodgers a book about some less well-known aspects of philosophers’ lives, entitled Philosophers Behaving Badly published by Peter Owen).[8][9][10][11][12] More recent publications include Me in Acumen’s ‘The Art of Living’ series,[13] exploring issues of personal identity, Understand Existentialism, co-authored with Nigel Rodgers,[14] The Philosopher’s Beach Book, published by Hodder Education in 2012, giving an easy introduction to 35 philosophical questions, and he has contributed to The Religions Book published by DK.[15]

Titles published in Autumn 2017 include Philosophy for Life, the 6th edition of his introduction to Philosophy originally published in 1994 as Teach Yourself Philosophy, but now extensively revised, and a core textbook for AQA Religious Studies, co-authoried with John Frye and Debbie Herring, and his self-published Through Mud and Barbed Wireabout the impact of the First World War on the thinking of two of the 20th century's greatest religious thinkers - Paul Tillich and Teilhard de Chardin. His most recent book, entitled Ethics for Life, was published by John Murray Education in the Teach Yourself series in October 2018.

English language versions of his books have sold over half a million copies, and have been translated into 14 other languages. For more on his views on writing see the interview given to Nigel Warburton in 2006 for the Virtual Philosopher website.[16]


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  4. ^ Teach Yourself Books is an imprint of Hodder Education, Hachette Company, in London, and distributed by McGraw-Hill in the USA and Canada.
  5. ^ Chris, Arthur (14 September 1993). "Sacred writings -- Hinduism in Words and Pictures by Sarah Thorley / Judaism in Words and Pictures by Sarah Thorley / The Buddhist Experience by Mel Thompson (book review)". The Times. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  6. ^ Hodder & Stoughton, 1993, 2nd ed 2000
  7. ^ With ed. David Appelbaum, Vega (a member of Chrysalis Books plc) 2002.
  8. ^ Pearson, Beth (5 March 2005). "Philosophers Behaving Badly (book review)". The Herald (Glasgow). Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  9. ^ Romano, Carlin (22 June 2005). "'Philosophers Behaving Badly': The not-so-great acts of the great philosophers (book review)". Philadelphia Inquirer. Knight Ridder. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  10. ^ Edmonds, Richard Birmingham Post, Virtues versus Vices (book review), (February 12, 2005)
  11. ^ Watson, Peter (October 21, 2005). "A brothel, a piano and Nietzsche's search for a soul". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  12. ^ Poole, Steven (26 February 2005). "Saturday Review (brief book review)". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  13. ^ Acumen Publishing Limited, 2009)
  14. ^ Teach Yourself (Hodder Education, McGraw-Hill), 2010
  15. ^ The Religions Book (Big Ideas) Dorling Kindersley, 2013.
  16. ^