Thinker’s Library

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The Thinker’s Library was a series of 140 small hardcover books published between 1929 and 1951 for the Rationalist Press Association by Watts & Co., London, a company founded by the brothers Charles and John Watts.

The series was launched at the time when Watts & Co. was being run by Charles Albert Watts. A member of the company’s board of directors, Archibald Robertson, took an active interest in setting up the series and it was he who suggested the series’ name.[1]

The Thinker’s Library consisted of a selection of essays, literature, and extracts from greater works by various classical and contemporary humanists and rationalists, continuing in the tradition of the Renaissance. Many of the titles were cheap reprints of classic books, aimed at a mass audience.[citation needed]

Catalogue of titles[edit]

Each volume consists of an eponymous essay sometimes followed by a collection of related essays by the same author, or an introductory extract from a greater work by that author. Any deviation from this format will be self-explanatory from the title. All foreign language texts were published in the English language.

  1. “First and Last Things” by H. G. Wells
  2. “Education: Intellectual, Moral, and Physical” by Herbert Spencer
  3. “The Riddle of the Universe” by Ernst Haeckel
  4. “Humanity’s Gain from Unbelief, and Other Selections from the Works of Charles Bradlaugh” (1929)
  5. On Liberty” by John Stuart Mill
  6. “A Short History of the World” by H. G. Wells
  7. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin” by Charles Darwin
  8. “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin
  9. “Twelve Years in a Monastery” by Joseph McCabe
  10. “History of Modern Philosophy” by A. W. Benn (1930)
  11. “Gibbon on Christianity” – chapters 15 and 16 of Edward Gibbon‘s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1930)
  12. The Descent of Man” – Part 1 and the concluding chapter of Part 3, by Charles Darwin (1930)
  13. “History of Civilization in England” – Vol. I, by Henry Thomas Buckle
  14. “Anthropology” – Vol. I, by Sir Edward B. Tylor
  15. “Anthropology” – Vol. II, by Sir Edward B. Tylor
  16. Iphigenia” – Two plays, by Euripides, translated by C. B. Bonner
  17. “Lectures and Essays” by Thomas Henry Huxley
  18. “The Evolution of the Idea of God” by Grant Allen
  19. “An Agnostic’s Apology, and Other Essays” by Sir Leslie Stephen (March 1931)
  20. “The Churches and Modern Thought” by Vivian Phelips
  21. Penguin Island” by Anatole France
  22. “The Pathetic Fallacy” by Llewelyn Powys
  23. “Historical Trials (A Selection)” by Sir John MacDonell
  24. “A Short History of Christianity” by J. M. Robertson
  25. “The Martyrdom of Man” by Winwood Reade
  26. “Head-hunters, Black, White, and Brown” by Alfred C. Haddon (1932)
  27. “The Evidence for the Supernatural” by Ivor Ll. Tuckett
  28. “The City of Dreadful Night and other poems” – A selection from the poetical works of James Thomson (1932)
  29. “In the Beginning: The Origin of Civilisation” by G. Elliot Smith
  30. Adonis: a Study in the History of Oriental Religion” – from The Golden Bough by Sir James G. Frazer (1932)
  31. “Our New Religion” by H. A. L. Fisher
  32. “On Compromise” by John Morley
  33. “A History of the Taxes on Knowledge” by Collet Dobson Collet
  34. “The Existence of God” by Joseph McCabe (1933)
  35. “The Story of the Bible” by MacLeod Yearsley
  36. “Savage Survivals: The Story of the Race Told in Simple Languages” by J. Howard Moore
  37. The Revolt of the Angels” by Anatole France
  38. “The Outcast” by Winwood Reade
  39. “Penalties Upon Opinion” by Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner
  40. “Oath, Curse, and Blessing” by Ernest Crawley
  41. “Fireside Science” by Sir E. Ray Lankester
  42. “History of Anthropology” by Alfred C. Haddon (1934)
  43. “The World’s Earliest Laws” by Chilperic Edwards (1934)
  44. “Fact and Faith” by J. B. S. Haldane
  45. “The Men of the Dawn” by Dorothy Davison
  46. “The Mind in the Making” by James Harvey Robinson
  47. “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” by Charles Darwin
  48. “Psychology for Everyman (and Woman)” by A. E. Mander
  49. “The Religion of the Open Mind” by Adam Gowans Whyte
  50. “Letters on Reasoning” by J. M. Robertson
  51. “The Social Record of Christianity” by Joseph McCabe
  52. “Five Stages of Greek religion: Studies Based on a Course of Lectures Delivered in April 1912 at Columbia University” by Gilbert Murray (1935)
  53. “The Life of Jesus” by Ernest Renan (1935)
  54. “Selected Works of Voltaire” by Joseph McCabe
  55. “What are we to do with our lives?” by H. G. Wells
  56. “Do What You Will” by Aldous Huxley (1936)
  57. “Clearer Thinking (Logic for Everyman)” by A. E. Mander
  58. “History of Ancient Philosophy” by A. W. Benn
  59. “Your Body: How it is built and how it works” by D. Stark Murray
  60. “What is Man?” by Mark Twain (1936)
  61. “Man and His Universe” by John Langdon-Davies
  62. “First Principles” by Herbert Spencer
  63. Rights of Man” by Thomas Paine
  64. “This Human Nature” by Charles Duff
  65. “Dictionary of Scientific Terms as Used in the Various Sciences” by Charles Marsh Beadnell
  66. “A Book of Good Faith” by Montaigne
  67. “The Universe of Science” by Hyman Levy
  68. “Liberty To-day” by C. E. M. Joad
  69. The Age of Reason” by Thomas Paine
  70. “The Fair Haven” by Samuel Butler (1938)
  71. “A Candidate for Truth: Passages from Emerson” (1938)
  72. “A Short History of Women” by John Langdon-Davies
  73. “Natural Causes and Supernatural Seemings” by Henry Maudsley
  74. “Morals, Manners, and Men” by Havelock Ellis (1939)
  75. “Pages from a Lawyer’s Notebooks” by E. S. P. Haynes
  76. “An Architect of Nature” – The autobiography of Luther Burbank (1939)
  77. “Act of God” by F. Tennyson Jesse
  78. “The Man versus The State” by Herbert Spencer
  79. The World as I See It” by Albert Einstein (1940)
  80. Jocasta‘s Crime: An Anthropological Study” by Lord Raglan
  81. “The Twilight of the Gods and Other Tales” by Richard Garnett
  82. “Kingship” by A. M. Hocart
  83. “Religion Without Revelation” by Julian Huxley
  84. “Let the People Think” by Bertrand Russell
  85. “The Myth of the Mind” by Frank Kenyon
  86. “The Liberty of Man and Other Essays” by Robert G. Ingersoll
  87. “Man Makes Himself” by V. Gordon Childe
  88. “World Revolution and the Future of the West” by W. Friedmann (1942)
  89. “The Origin of the Kiss and Other Scientific Diversions” by Charles Marsh Beadnell
  90. “The Bible and its Background. Vol. I.” by Archibald Robertson
  91. “The Bible and its Background. Vol. II.” by Archibald Robertson
  92. “The Conquest of Time” by H. G. Wells (1942)
  93. “The Gospel of Rationalism” by Charles T. Gorham
  94. “Life’s Unfolding” by Sir Charles Sherrington (1944)
  95. “An easy Outline of Astronomy” by M. Davidson
  96. “The God of the Bible” by Evans Bell
  97. “Man Studies Life” by G. N. Ridley
  98. In Search of the Real Bible” by A. D. Howell Smith
  99. “The Outlines of Mythology” by Lewis Spence
  100. “Magic and Religion” by Sir James G. Frazer
  101. “Flight from Conflict” by Laurence Collier
  102. “Progress and Archaeology” by V. Gordon Childe (1944)
  103. “The Chemistry of Life” by J. S. D. Bacon
  104. “Medicine and Mankind” by Arnold Sorsby
  105. “The Church and Social Progress” by Marjorie Bowen [pen-name of Margaret Gabrielle Long]
  106. “The Great Mystics” by George Godwin
  107. “The Religion of Ancient Mexico” by Lewis Spence
  108. “Geology in the Life of Man” by Duncan Leitch
  109. “A Century for Freedom” by Kenneth Urwin
  110. Jesus: Myth or History?” by Archibald Robertson
  111. The Ethics of Belief and Other Essays” by William Kingdon Clifford
  112. “Human Nature, War and Society” by John Cohen
  113. “The Rational Good: A Study in the Logic of Practice” by L. T. Hobhouse
  114. “Man: The Verdict of Science” by G. N. Ridley
  115. “The Distressed Mind” by J. A. C. Brown
  116. “The Illusion of National Character” by Hamilton Fyfe (1940)
  117. “Population, Psychology, and Peace” by J. C. Flugel
  118. “Friar’s Lantern” by G. G. Coulton
  119. “Ideals and Illusions” by L. Susan Stebbing
  120. “An Outline of the Development of Science” by M. Mansel Davies
  121. “Head and Hand in Ancient Greece: Four Studies in the Social Relations of Thought” by Benjamin Farrington
  122. “The Evolution of Society” by J. A. C. Brown
  123. “Background to Modern Thought” by C. D. Hardie
  124. “The Holy Heretics: The Story of the Albigensian Crusade” by Edmond Holmes
  125. “Man His Own Master” by Archibald Robertson
  126. “Men Without Gods” by Hector Hawton
  127. “The Earliest Englishman” by Sir Arthur Smith Woodward
  128. Astronomy for Beginners” by Martin Davidson
  129. “The Search for Health” by D. Stark Murray
  130. “The Mystery of Anna Berger” by George Godwin
  131. “Wrestling Jacob” by Marjorie Bowen [Pen-name of Margaret Gabrielle Long]
  132. “The Origins of Religion” by Lord Raglan (1949)
  133. “The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth, and Drama” by Lord Raglan
  134. “The Life of John Knox” by Marjorie Bowen [Pen-name of Margaret Gabrielle Long]
  135. “The French Revolution” by Archibald Robertson
  136. “The Art of Thought” by Graham Wallas
  137. “Literary Style and Music” by Herbert Spencer
  138. “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin (reprint of first edition) (printed but unpublished)
  139. “The Science of Heredity” by J. S. D. Bacon
  140. “The Great Revivalists” by George Godwin (1951)


  • Cooke, Bill (2003). The Blasphemy Depot: A Hundred Years of the Rationalist Press Association. London: Rationalist Press Association. ISBN 0-301-00302-5. Republished as: The Gathering of Infidels: A Hundred Years of the Rationalist Press Association, Amherst, New York: Prometheus Press, 2006. ISBN 1-591-02196-0.


  1. ^ Cooke, Bill (2003). The Blasphemy Depot: A Hundred Years of the Rationalist Press Association. RPA.

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