Join Donate

Funeral of Elaine Morgan, writer, feminist and humanist

The funeral was held today of British Humanist Association (BHA) Distinguished Supporter Elaine Morgan, who died on the 12 July. Elaine Morgan who was born in Wales in 1920 and educated at Oxford, leaves behind three sons. Her funeral was held in Wales conducted by Humanist Celebrant Richard Paterson.

For about 30 years from 1953 she was a successful television writer of plays, serials, and adaptations and won a clutch of awards including two Baftas, a Prix Italia, and a Writer of the Year award. She wrote the best-selling book The Descent of Woman (1972). It was prompted by a reaction against the macho image of the “mighty hunter” which was then prevalent in books popularising contemporary thinking on human evolution. A few years later she was drawn into a spin-off controversy concerning whether Alister Hardy had been right to ask in New Scientist ”Was man more aquatic in the past?” She published five books in support of the answer “Yes, he was.” She had no scientific qualifications, and it was confidently assumed then that anyone supporting her idea belonged on the outer edges of the lunatic fringe of science. It took thirty-eight years, and some advances in palaeontological techniques, to bring her theory “a little way in from the cold” – as she described this slow progress. She only retired at the start of this year from writing a weekly column for the Western Mail after suffering ill health in 2012.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented: ‘Elaine Morgan brought with her a range of interests and extensive knowledge as a supporter of Humanism, and was a vocal advocate of the BHA once saying “Humanists come in various kinds, but we have enough in common to need one organisation that can speak for us all.” She had a tremendous influence on the arts and sciences and was a true source of inspiration for us all’.


For further comment or information, please contact Andrew Copson, 020 7079 3583.

BHA Ceremonies

Humanist Celebrant Richard Paterson

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

Search Humanists UK