Leicester Secular Society
for an inclusive and plural society free from religious privilege, prejudice and discrimination.
(established 1851)
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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 were 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 before the Hall refurbishment in 2013. 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. 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.


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

  • The Assassins (Socialist Platform Ltd 1988) first published 1935.
  • The Roman Catholic Church and the Modern Age (pamphlet)
  • Pope John and the Cold War
  • Three Lunar Voyages (Hyde Park Pamphlet #1, Leslie Jones, London, 1981) 16pp
  • Reminiscences of Hyde Park; (Hyde Park Pamphlet #7, Leslie Jones, London, 1985)
  • Fascism Down the Ages: From Caesar to Hitler (Romer Publications, London, 1988 and reprint 1991)
  • The Future of the British Monarchy (LSS no date) 24pp
  • Spartacus

Other works listed in the wikipedia biography are:

  • At the Cross Roads of History (On the present social and economic crisis), Wishart, London, 1935
  • Julian the Apostate and the Rise of Christianity, Watts & Co. Ltd, London, 1937
  • The Papacy and Fascism: the crisis of the twentieth century, Secker and Warburg, London, 1937
  • The Jesuits: a study in counter revolution, Secker and Warburg, London, 1938
  • Fascism - What Is It?, Freedom Press, London, 1941
  • Revolutionary Tradition in England, National Labour Press, London, 1947
  • The Evolution of the Papacy, Pioneer Press, London, 1949


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Page updated 26/3/2020.