Humanists UK mourns Jim Herrick (1944-2023)

22 June, 2023

Humanists UK is deeply saddened to hear of the death of our longstanding member and humanist writer and activist Jim Herrick, aged 78.

Jim Herrick was born in 1944. He studied History and English literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, and then worked as a school teacher for seven years, but his real passion was humanism and its history.

His many books included his history of humanist centre Conway Hall, Aspiring to the Truth: Two Hundred Years of the South Place Ethical Society (2016); Humanism: An Introduction (2003); Humanist Anthology: From Confucius to David Attenborough. (1995); Against the Faith: Some Deists, Skeptics and Atheists (1985); and Vision and Realism: A Hundred Years of The Freethinker (1982). He also wrote the history of the Humanist Housing Association, bringing to life the story of humanists who came together in the period following the war to help non-religious people at risk of homelessness.

From 1984 to 2002 he was the editor of New Humanist and subsequently became the journal’s literary editor until his retirement in 2005. He was also editor of International Humanist News, published by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, now Humanists International, from which he received the Distinguished Humanist Service Award in 1996. From January 1977 until 1981, Jim edited The Freethinker, the oldest magazine of freethought in the UK.

As well as being a devoted member of Humanists UK, Jim Herrick was among the early members of Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association, now known as LGBT Humanists, and also served as its Chair. He was also a Board member of the Rationalist Press Association and a former vice-president of the National Secular Society.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

‘Jim was a dedicated humanist and his great strengths as a communicator meant that he also became one of humanism’s most persuasive advocates. His accessible style had wide appeal and his own involvement was wide-ranging, from co-founding LGBT Humanists to documenting the history of the Humanist Housing Association. Everyone at Humanists UK will remember him with great respect and admiration and those of us to whom he was personally dear will treasure the memory of his great warmth and loyal friendship.’


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.

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.