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John Anderson (1893–1962) by Sir William Dobell, 1962 © DACS 2010; University of Sydney Art Collection, John Anderson Testimonial Fund, 1962. Reproduced courtesy of Sir William Dobell Art Foundation

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Anderson, John (1893–1962), philosopher and social critic, was born in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, 30 miles south-west of Glasgow, on 1 November 1893, the third of the five children of a radical schoolmaster, Alexander Anderson (1863–1947), and his wife, Elizabeth Brown (d. 1942), teacher, pianist, and poet....

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Arouet, François-Marie [known as Voltaire] (1694–1778), writer and philosopher, was born in Paris on 21 November 1694 according to the notice of baptism. He was the fifth of five surviving children born to François Arouet (1649–1722), lawyer and minor official, and his wife, ...

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Austin, John Langshaw (1911–1960), philosopher, was born in Lancaster on 26 March 1911, the second son of the five children of Geoffrey Langshaw Austin (1884–1971), architect, and his wife, Mary Bowes-Wilson (1883–1948). After the First World War his parents moved to St Andrews...

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John Langshaw Austin (1911–1960) by Ramsey & Muspratt, 1951 photograph reproduced by courtesy of The British Academy

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Barfield, (Arthur) Owen (1898–1997), writer and philosopher, was born on 9 November 1898 at 6 Grosvenor Gardens, Muswell Hill, Middlesex, the youngest of the four children of Arthur Edward Barfield, a solicitor, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Shoults. It was a free-thinking family and so immune to all 'superstition' that ...

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Blackham, Harold John (1903–2009), philosopher, humanist, and educationist, was born on 31 March 1903 at 4 Piers Road, Handsworth, near Birmingham, the only son and youngest of four children of Walter Roland Blackham (1875–1911), bookseller and publisher, and his wife, Harriet Mary, née...

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Cioffi, Frank (1928–2012), philosopher, was born on 11 January 1928 in New York, the only child of Salvatore Cioffi (d. 1930?), bookbinder, and his wife, Melina, née Castellano. The Cioffis hailed from Vico Equense, a small village between Naples and Sorrento in the ...

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Clapperton, Jane Hume (1832–1914), philosopher and social reformer, was born in the parish of St Cuthbert's in Edinburgh to Alexander Clapperton (d. 1849) and Anne Clapperton, née Hume (d. 1872), on 22 September 1832. She was the tenth of twelve children. Her father was a successful merchant, who owned businesses in ...

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Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772–1834), poet, critic, and philosopher, was born on 21 October 1772 at Ottery St Mary, Devon, and baptized there on 30 December, the youngest of ten children born to John Coleridge (bap. 1719, d. 1781), vicar of the town and master of the grammar school, and his second wife, ...

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) by Peter Vandyke, 1795 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Collins, Anthony (1676–1729), philosopher and freethinker, was born on 21 June 1676 at Isleworth, Middlesex, the eldest child of Henry Collins (1646/7–1705), lawyer, and Mary Dineley. He was educated at Eton College and then at King's College, Cambridge, from 1693 to 1696, but did not take a degree. At ...

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Cooper, Anthony Ashley, third earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713), philosopher and author, was born on 26 February 1671, at about eight o'clock in the evening, at Exeter House in the Strand, London, and baptized on 7 March at St Clement Danes. He was the first son of ...

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Anthony Ashley Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury (1671–1713) by John Closterman, c. 1700–01 [left, with an attendant] © reserved

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Findlay, John Niemeyer (1903–1987), philosopher, was born in Pretoria, South Africa, on 25 November 1903, the third of five children of John Hudson Lamb Findlay, a lawyer, and his wife, Elizabeth Aletta, née Niemeyer. He attended the High School for Boys in Pretoria...

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Foot [née Bosanquet], Philippa Ruth (1920–2010), philosopher, was born on 3 October 1920 at Owston Ferry, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, the younger daughter of William Sydney Bence Bosanquet (1893–1966), industrialist, and his wife, Esther, née Cleveland (1893–1980). Her mother was born in the ...

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Philippa Ruth Foot (1920–2010) by unknown photographer © reserved

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Godwin, William (1756–1836), philosopher and novelist, was born on 3 March 1756 at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, the seventh of thirteen children of John Godwin (1723–1772), a dissenting minister, and his wife, Anne (c.1723–1809), the daughter of Richard Hull, a shipowner engaged in the ...

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William Godwin (1756–1836) by James Northcote, 1802 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sir Julian Sorell Huxley (1887–1975) by Howard Coster, 1939 © National Portrait Gallery, London