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November 4: Eden Phillpotts

Eden Phillpotts (1862)

Eden Phillpotts

It was on this date, November 4, 1862, that British novelist, poet and playwright Eden Phillpotts was born in India. At the age of seventeen, he began working as an insurance clerk by day, but wrote fiction fantasies by night.

Phillpotts' literary career began with Children of the Mist in 1898, and encompassed over 250 books, plays and poetry collections by the time he died on 29 December 1960. He kept his Agnostic views of religion out of his novels, but expressed approval of Rationalism — "The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper" he wrote in his 1933 mystery, A Shadow Passes — and many of his articles on religion expressed skepticism. He had several of his poems published in the British Rationalist Press Association's R.P.A. Annual.

The Atheist ex-priest and historian Joseph McCabe writes, "I have often been his guest and found no man nearer to me in his opinions (on religion), but though he remains an agnostic, in recent years he has become milder and more conservative."

Originally published November 2003.

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