Chapman Cohen

(1 September 1868 – 4 February 1954)

Chapman Cohen was a leading English atheist and secularist writer and lecturer. He was the elder son of Enoch Cohen, a Jewish confectioner, and his wife, Deborah, and in his own words had “little religion at home and none at school”

Cohen moved to London in 1889, and soon became involved in the secularist movement. That year he accepted an invitation to speak against a Christian lecturer and shortly afterwards he was invited to speak the local branch of the National Secular Society (NSS).

After a year of lecturing for the freethought cause, he joined the NSS, becoming a popular and prolific lecturer for the Society. In 1893 Cohen spoke at the Leicester Secular Society. He was elected a vice-president of the NSS in 1895.

In 1897 Cohen began contributing weekly articles to G. W. Foote‘s Freethinker, in 1898 he became assistant editor, and after Foote’s death in 1915 he was appointed editor. Cohen also succeeded Foote as President of the NSS until 1949.

Cohen had written for other freethought journals before joining The Freethinker, and had edited The Truthseeker, owned by J.W. Gott.

Cohen remained editor of The Freethinker until 1951, when he retired and was replaced by Francis Ridley.

On his death, The Times printed a short obituary of Cohen, which said:

He was the author of many books setting forth the freethought philosophy of life, which had a large sale, and he was outstanding as a forthright, witty and courteous debater and lecturer.

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