Samuel Kerkham Ratcliffe

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Samuel Kerkham Ratcliffe (1868-1958) was an English journalist and lecturer.


Ratcliffe's father owned a King's Lynn flour mill, but moved to work as a railway clerk in Manchester when that business failed. Samuel was sent to be live with an aunt and attend school in London. He started working as a journalist for The Echo, edited by John Passmore Edwards, eventually rising to be leader-writer.[1]

In May 1902 Ratcliffe joined the Indian English-language newspaper The Statesman as its assistant editor under Paul Knight. Later that year he met Sister Nivedita, who would become a lifelong friend. In 1903 Ratcliffe became the acting editor of The Statesman, and continued with the newspaper until 1907 when he was forced to resign for espousing Indian nationalism.[2] Returning to London, he worked for the Daily News under A. G. Gardiner, as well as writing for the Manchester Guardian, The Spectator, the Nation and the Contemporary Review.[3] Ratcliffe was editor of the Sociological Review from 1910 to 1917.[4]

Ratcliffe began lecturing for the South Place Ethical Society in 1912.[1] In 1913 he delivered a series of lectures to the League of Political Education in New York. For the next three decades he spent the winter months lecturing across the United States: "It is probable", suggested his Manchester Guardian obituarist, "that no Englishman ever travelled so many miles in America or was heard by so many thousands of people there as he."[3] He also continued lecturing in England, where he became a member of the South Place Ethical Society's panel in 1915 and in the 1930s was the society's most regular lecturer.[1]

Ratcliffe's son was the scientist Francis Ratcliffe,[3] and one of his two daughters married the neurophysiologist W. Grey Walter.[1] Nicholas Walter was his grandson.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d I. D. MacKillop, The British Ethical Societies, Cambridge, 1986, pp.66-7, 70, 76.
  2. ^ Udit Bhanu Dasgupta, Samuel Ratcliffe: a friend of Sister Nivedita, accessed 28 Sept. 2011
  3. ^ a b c 'Obituary: S. K. Ratcliffe', The Manchester Guardian, 2 September 1958, p.12
  4. ^ Mary Lago, India's prisoner: a biography of Edward John Thompson, 1886-1946, p.342
  5. ^ Goodway, David (2001). "Nicolas Walter1934-2000" (PDF). Ethical record. 107 (6): 3–9. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 

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