Pre-order now: The Little Book of Humanist Funerals

13 April, 2023

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A new book by Humanists UK Vice President Alice Roberts and Chief Executive Andrew Copson will introduce readers to what makes a humanist funeral and provide inspiration on how to commemorate the life of a loved one.

The Little Book of Humanist Funerals, published on 8 June, invites readers to begin thinking about mortality, death, dying, and grief. Using quotes, meditations, and stories from Humanists UK celebrants, the book is both comforting and thought-provoking, drawing on the wisdom of some of history’s greatest thinkers to inspire readers to reflect on death and how this can shape their lives for the better. It quotes everyone from Shakespeare to Stephen Fry, Nelson Mandela to Zora Neale Hurston, and Marie Curie to Marcus Aurelius.

Taking readers on a journey from thinking about death to starting to think about the ideas, beliefs, and values that inform a funeral, Alice Roberts and Andrew Copson draw on these moving quotes, as well as the expertise of Humanists UK celebrants, to provide inspiration for organising ceremonies that are memorable and meaningful.

Humanist funerals, which are non-religious and focus on celebrating the life and legacy of those who have died, have become increasingly popular in recent years. A 2016 YouGov survey suggested that one in seven people in the UK now want to have a humanist funeral when they die. Since 1896, Humanists UK celebrants have worked with families who have lost their loved ones to carry out bespoke ceremonies for non-religious people. The Little Book of Humanist Funerals encapsulates the essence of these ceremonies which have become well-loved for their warmth and inclusive nature.

The book can be purchased from Waterstones, Amazon, Blackwell’s, Hive, and all good bookshops at £12.99 RRP. It is published by Piatkus Books, an imprint of Little, Brown. All author royalties from the book go towards supporting the work of Humanists UK.

A launch event for the book will take place online at 19:00 on 18 May 2023. Alice Roberts and Andrew Copson will be joined by Humanists UK celebrants Zena Birch (who was one of the book’s principal contributors) and Blake Hutchings, and by Humanists UK’s Director of Ceremonies Deborah Hooper, for a discussion of the book and the themes contained within.

Authors Andrew Copson and Alice Roberts commented:

‘It’s wonderful to complete the Little Book series with its final instalment: The Little Book of Humanist Funerals. The book isn’t a ‘how to’ guide to arranging a funeral but an all-in-one book that will help readers begin to reflect on their own thoughts on death, dying, and grief, as well as the ideas, beliefs, and values that inform a funeral.

‘Humanist Funerals are such unique and special ceremonies that really get to the core of who someone was and how they will be remembered. We can’t wait to share another beautiful Little Book with you.’

About the authors:

Professor Alice Roberts is a writer, broadcaster, and President of Humanists UK. She is the bestselling author of many popular science books including Ancestors, Evolution: The Human Story, The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being and Tamed: Ten Species that Changed Our World. She is also the co-author of the Sunday Times bestseller The Little Book of Humanism with Andrew Copson as well as The Little Book of Humanist Weddings. Making her television debut on Time Team in 2001, she has become one of Britain’s best-known broadcasters and has written and presented a huge range of television series for BBC2, BBC4 and Channel 4, including The Incredible Human Journey, Origins of Us, and Ice Age Giants, and several Horizon programmes. Her humanist ‘mini-sermons’ on Twitter have been liked and shared many thousands of times.

Andrew Copson is the Chief Executive of Humanists UK and President of Humanists International. His books include the Sunday Times bestseller The Little Book of Humanism and The Little Book of Humanist Weddings with Alice Roberts; Secularism: a very short introduction; and The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Humanism with A C Grayling. His writing on humanist and secularist issues has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Times and New Statesman as well as in various journals. He has represented the humanist movement extensively on radio and on television news on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, as well as on programmes such as Newsnight, The Daily Politics, and The Big Questions. He is a former director of the Religious Education Council, the Values Education Council, and the National Council for Faiths and Beliefs in Further Education.


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Information on finding and booking a Humanist Ceremonies celebrant can be found on our website.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

For more information on the origins of humanist ceremonies, as pioneered by Humanists UK members in the 1890s, see the Humanist Heritage website.