The Great Rewrite: Secularism and Nineteenth-Century Wales

Lengthy but fascinating piece about the rise of secularism in Wales. I’m a member of the National Secular Society, by the way.

History On The Dole

Charles Bradlaugh, Secularist and Republican. Charles Bradlaugh, Secularist and Republican.

When it comes to writing history, there are times when your thoughts no longer chime with anyone else’s. For students that can be quite an unsettling experience, as it remains for professionals, but breaking the bonds of someone else’s authority is a vital step in becoming a historian in one’s own right. Today’s blog is one of those times where I’m going to go out on a limb of my own. As regular readers of historyonthedole will know, there are lots of facets of late-nineteenth/early twentieth century Wales that I’ve been working on which have generally been neglected or glossed over. All of them, in the end, point towards a Wales that was far more complicated than the neat narrative of political and linguistic change tends to allow for. Ever since I first wrote my undergraduate dissertation, I’ve been struck by the clash between the…

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5 Responses to “The Great Rewrite: Secularism and Nineteenth-Century Wales”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Annie Besant, secular? Pull the other one! She was prominent in the secular movement in order to oppose institutional Christianity. (I’m no fan of institutional Christianity myself; as a committed Christian I echo the New Testament view that it is about personal change, not political.) Annie Besant was deeply committed to eastern mystical religion.

  2. Bryn Jones Says:

    It’s good to see a mention of H. W. Lloyd Tanner, professor of mathematics and astronomy at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, in connection with the unsuccessful attempts to have him removed from his position because of his connections with the National Secular Society.

    However, I don’t concur with the mention of `the Liberal-Nonconformist elites’ in the same sentence: the elites in the early 1880s were predominantly the Anglican establishment. Some privileged Liberals were also found among the establishment, and occasionally nonconformists, but nonconformists were mostly the excluded and disadvantaged. Indeed, it was the former Liberal home secretary Lord Aberdare who had led the defence of Tanner.

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