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Humanly Possible: 700 years of humanist freethinking, inquiry, and hope


Perhaps you think of yourself as a humanist; perhaps you do not – but if you are reading this, the chances are you do have some affinity with humanism. You may be drawn to literature and the humanities. You may prefer to base your moral choices on fellow-feeling and responsibility to others, rather than on religious commandments. Or you may simply believe that individual lives are more important than grand political visions or dogmas.

If any of these apply, you are part of a long tradition of humanist living, and you share that tradition with 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.

Humanly Possible introduces 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.

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.

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