George William Foote

(1854—1915) radical journalist and secularist

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George William Foote was born in Plymouth on 11 January 1854 into tenuous lower middle classdom, the son of a Plymouth customs officer who died when he was four. He died in London on 17 October 1915. An eager student and nascent bibliophile, he made the break for London, the freedom of the British Library, and a job in a large West End circulating library at the age of fourteen. Already lapsed into Unitarianism, he quickly gravitated towards freethought. By 1870 he was a contributor to Bradlaugh's National Reformer, polishing up a polite style for scholarly assaults on Bible problems; in 1873 a fine voice, a relentlessly logical mind, a comic turn and a gift for improvisation led him to the platform as a lecturer for Bradlaugh's revitalized National Secular Society (NSS). He rose to Vice-President of the NSS in 1874, broke briefly with ‘the Chief’ in 1877, but returned to his post when Bradlaugh was summarily ejected from the House of Commons in 1880, the opening act of the six-year struggle to take his seat as MP for Northampton that made the 1880s freethought's ‘heroic decade’ (Royle, 1980, p. 265) and which, Foote remembered, ‘revolutionized my ideas of Freethought policy’ (Prisoner for Blasphemy, 1886, p. 18).


From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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