Humanly Possible: 700 Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry and Hope


There’s a new history of humanism coming to libraries and bookstores in March that you may want to get your order(s) in for now! Written by Sarah Bakewell, Humanly Possible: 700 Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry and hope promises to introduce “us to some of these people, as it asks what humanism is and why it has flourished for so long, despite opposition from fanatics, mystics and tyrants. It is a book brimming with ideas, personalities and experiments in living ‒ from the literary enthusiasts of the fourteenth century to the secular campaigners of our own time, from Erasmus to Esperanto, from anatomists to agnostics, from Christine de Pizan to Bertrand Russell, and from Voltaire to Zora Neale Hurston. It takes us on an irresistible journey, and joyfully celebrates open-mindedness, optimism, freedom and the power of the here and now ‒ humanist values which have helped steer us through dark times in the past, and which are just as urgently needed in our world today.

Whether you think of yourself as a humanist or not, an education in ethical, philosophical and religious material is essential to navigating the ever-more complicated and challenging options and opportunities that we face as individuals and society. Bakewell’s book presents a history of humanism for those who are drawn to humanism, literature and the humanities as well as those who may prefer to base their moral choices on fellow-feeling and responsibility to others, rather than on religious commandments.

Bakewell’s book tells the story of the many extraordinary individuals throughout history who have put rational inquiry, cultural richness, freedom of thought and a sense of hope at the heart of their lives.

UK: Chatto & Windus, March 2023.

US: Penguin, March 2023.

Canada: Knopf, March 2023.


Translations are forthcoming in Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. More information will be posted here when available.

Citations, References And Other Reading

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