Freethought Almanac

Lighting a candle in toxic air.
2012-01-25
January 25: Robert Burns (1759)

It was on this date, January 25, 1759, that the national poet of Scotland, Robert Burns, was born in Alloway, near Ayr. Most of his poems were written in the meter of the popular songs of his day, so Burns could be called a lyricist as well as a poet. At age 21 Burns became […]

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2012-01-25
January 25: W. Somerset Maugham (1874)

It was on this date, January 25, 1874, that British novelist and playwright William Somerset Maugham was born in the British Embassy in Paris. His parents died before Maugham was ten. Brought up by a religious aunt and uncle, he got himself into medical school, clerked in the slums of Lambeth, and when his first […]

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2012-01-25
January 25: Virginia Woolf (1882)

It was on this date, January 25, 1882, that British novelist Virginia Woolf was born Adeline Virginia Stephen in London. She was the daughter of Julia Jackson Duckworth, a member of the Duckworth publishing family, and Sir Leslie Stephen, the literary critic and founder of the Dictionary of National Biography. Virginia gave little thought to […]

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2012-01-24
January 24: Emperor Hadrian (76 CE)

It was on this date, January 24, 76 CE, that the Roman Emperor Hadrian was born in Rome, or perhaps in Spain. From a successful military career, and a quick rise through the political elite of Rome, Hadrian became the adopted son of Emperor Trajan and succeeded him as Emperor. Hadrian mitigated but did not […]

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2012-01-24
January 24: Frederick the Great (1712)

It was on this date, January 24, 1712, that Frederick the Great was born in Berlin. The future Hohenzollern King of Prussia spent his youth under a harsh and pious father, for whom Frederick learned to hide his hatred, and trained for a military career until he saw a chance to escape to England. His […]

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2012-01-23
January 23: Boniface VIII Becomes Pope (1295)

It was on this date, January 23, 1295, that Boniface VIII (Benedetto Gaetano) was made Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He was born about 1235 in Agnani, Italy, and served the papacy for many years as a canon lawyer. On the death of Nicholas IV, Celestine V, a pious monk, was drafted to be […]

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2012-01-23
January 23: Stendhal (1783)

It was on this date, January 23, 1783, that the French novelist known as Stendhal was born Marie-Henri Beyle in Grenoble. He hated the Jesuit education provided by his pious aunt, so Beyle moved to Paris to study and to write. When the French Empire fell in 1814, he moved to Italy, which resulted in […]

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2012-01-22
January 22: Francis Bacon (1561)

It was on this date, January 22, 1561, that English science essayist Francis Bacon was born in London, a contemporary of William Shakespeare in Elizabethan England. Elizabeth did not favor him, but after 1603 James I did. Bacon became Baron Verulam, Viscount St. Albans and Lord Chancellor of England. Bacon was a promoter of scientific […]

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2012-01-22
January 22: Lord Byron (1788)

It was on this date, January 22, 1788, that English poet George Gordon, Lord Byron, was born in London. He became radicalized and skeptical of religion during his student years at Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1806 he had Fugitive Pieces, printed. But the Rev. John Beecher objected to some of the poems, so Byron withdrew […]

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2012-01-22
January 22: August Strindberg (1849)

It was on this date, January 22, 1849, that Swedish dramatist and novelist Johann August Strindberg was born in Stockholm. From a poor childhood and a poor showing at the University of Uppsala, Strindberg made his reputation with his first published novel, a dramatization of the excesses of Stockholm capitalism, Red Room (Röda Rummet, 1879). […]

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.


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November 13: Ayaan Hirsi Ali (1969)

It was on this date, November 13, 1969, that Somali-born American feminist and atheist activist, writer and politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born Ayaan Hirsi Magan in Mogadishu, Somalia. While her father, a leading figure in the Somalian Revolution, was in prison, Ayann’s grandmother had the 5-year-old young girl’s genitals ritually cut off in what […]



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