Leicester Secular Society

THE OLDEST SECULAR SOCIETY IN THE WORLD - FOUNDED 1851

F. A. Ridley (1897 - 1994)

Several sites on the internet give the same biography of Francis Ambrose Ridley (22 February 1897 27 March 1994). All appear to copy the wikipedia entry, which in turn cites the book: The Gentle Revolutionary: The life and work of Frank Ridley, socialist and secularist, by Robert Morrell, published by the Freethought History Research Group (2003).

Ridley seems to have had strong connections with Leicester Secular Society, since there are two portraits of him in prominent place on the walls of the Library, which has the title "The F. A. Ridley Room" above the door. He gave the Society's Anniversary Lecture in 1982 on "The Crisis of the Papacy" and in 1985 on "Spartacus and Jesus: The Social Origins of Christianity". However, although the library contains a number of his works, his links with the Society seem to be unknown to the current membership.

The biography, and his series of Hyde Park Pamphlets in the library, indicates that he was a weekly denizen of Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park in London for 40 years, from 1925 onward, and was editor of The Freethinker 1951-1954, and President of the National Secular Society 1951-1963.

He was also a Marxist, at least in the 1930s, and was involved in a famous disagreement with Trotsky, but his subsequent attitudes to communism seem to be disputed. See these comments by Terry Liddell and by Mordecai Ryan. He was also involved with the Independent Labour Party from the 1940s onward, but it ceased to be a party, and became Independent Labour Publications, in 1975.

Bibliography

We have the following works by F. A. Ridley in the LSS Library:

Other works listed in the wikipedia biography are:

History