Leicester Secular Society
for an inclusive and plural society free from religious privilege, prejudice and discrimination.
(established 1851)
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National Secular Society Affiliated Group
British Humanist Association Affiliated Group
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Friend of British Institute of Human Rights

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Biffa Award 2013

Freethinker Magazine

Francois Marie Arouet / Voltaire
(1694 - 1778)

A view of the bust on the front of Secular Hall.

The satires of Francois Marie Arouet, who wrote under the pen-name of 'Voltaire', got him jailed and exiled from France to England (1726-29). He was very impressed, when Isaac Newton died in 1927, that a country would revere a mere Mathematician so highly as to bury him with great ceremony in the national mausoleum, Westminster Abbey. He helped to popularise Newton's ideas, and was a tireless campaigner for justice.

During his exile he was taught English by a Quaker and became sympathetic to the Quaker outlook (inspired by the teachings of Leicestershire born George Fox) and in Letters Concerning the English Nation, a series of 24 essays based on his experiences living in England, the first four were about the Quakers. He describes their customs, beliefs and history together with an appreciation of the simplicity of their rituals, in particular lack of baptism, communion and priests, stating that he believed ‘that the doctrine and the history of so extraordinary a people were worthy the attention of the curious’.

Some external links
Lucid Cafe on Voltaire
Kirjasto on Voltaire
Clarence Darrow on Voltaire
A Treatise on Toleration by Voltaire (1763), extracts
Letters on England

Page updated 12/2/2020.