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Jim Herrick obituary

Humanistically Speaking is very sad to report the death of humanist writer and activist Jim Herrick, who has died in Cambridge at the age of 78. In 1996 he received the Distinguished Humanist Service Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (now Humanists International).

"Jim was a dedicated humanist and his great strengths as a communicator meant that he also became one of humanism’s most persuasive advocates. His accessible style had wide appeal and his own involvement was wide-ranging, from co-founding LGBT Humanists to documenting the history of the Humanist Housing Association. Everyone at Humanists UK will remember him with great respect and admiration and those of us to whom he was personally dear will treasure the memory of his great warmth and loyal friendship." Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson
"We’re sorry to learn of the death of Jim Herrick. Jim was thoughtful and compassionate, a brilliant writer and a great secularist, having been NSS vice president for many years. He will be missed." National Secular Society, UK

Jim Herrick, born in 1944, studied history and English literature at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a school teacher for several years before taking up a post as Assistant General Secretary of the British Humanist Association (now Humanists UK). From 1977 to 1979 he was General Secretary of the National Secular Society. From 1984 to 2002 he was the editor of New Humanist and subsequently became the journal’s literary editor until his retirement in 2005. He was also editor of International Humanist News, published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, now Humanists International, from which he received the Distinguished Humanist Service Award in 1996. From January 1977 until 1981, he edited The Freethinker, the oldest magazine of freethought in the UK. As well as being a devoted member of Humanists UK, Jim Herrick was a founder member of Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, now known as LGBT Humanists, and also served as its Chair. He was also a Board member of the Rationalist Press Association and a former vice-president of the National Secular Society.

Bibliography - books by Jim Herrick

  • Aspiring to the Truth: Two Hundred Years of the South Place Ethical Society (2016) - South Place Ethical Society is now known as Conway Ethical Society, in Red Lion Square, London.

  • The Atheist Centre: Unbound by Cages (2012) - a brief account of the pioneering Atheist Centre in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, which was founded by the Indian social reformer Goparaju Ramachandra Rao, known as Gora, and still run by his family.

  • Humanism: An Introduction (2003)

  • Humanist Anthology: From Confucius to David Attenborough (1995)

  • Against the Faith: Some Deists, Skeptics and Atheists (1985)

  • Vision and Realism: A Hundred Years of The Freethinker (1982)

  • Humanist Housing: A History of the Association - This account brings to life the story of humanists who came together in the post-war period to help non-religious people at risk of homelessness.

Jim Herrick at the Atheist Centre in Vijayawada, 2011. Image from 'The Atheist Centre: Unbound by Cages'.


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Freethinker Jim Herrick

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Charles Baily
Charles Baily
Sep 16, 2023

So sorry to hear of the death of Jim Herrick.

He and I had a very odd relationship - our paths kept crossing in strangely random ways. We first met at Foyles in early 1963, filling in before Going Up. They had this strange policy of assigning people to a department where your encyclopaedic ignorance was guaranteed. I was going to Jesus, Cambridge to do Classics; he was going to Trinity to read English. So we were neighbours, in adjacent departments: me in Chemistry, Organic and Inorganic, with a side order of Naval Architecture, with a German girl called Heike; Jim was in Medicine, with Utte. It was while we were there that Private Eye published an article that comme…

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