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Appleton, Charles Edward Cutts Birchall (1841–1879), lecturer on philosophy and journal editor, was born on 16 March 1841, at Reading, the second son of the Revd Robert Appleton (d. 1875). He was educated at Reading School, of which his father was headmaster. He matriculated at ...

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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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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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James Beattie (1735–1803) by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1773 [The Triumph of Truth, with the Portrait of a Gentleman] University of Aberdeen

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Beattie, James (1735–1803), poet and philosopher, was baptized at Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire, on 25 October 1735, the youngest of six children of James Beattie (d. c.1742), tenant farmer and village shopkeeper, and Jean Watson (c.1692–1772). His father, who died when ...

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Bellers, Fettiplace (b. 1687, d. in or before 1750), philosophical writer and playwright, the son of John Bellers (1654–1725) and Frances, née Fettiplace (d. 1717), was born on 23 August 1687 in the parish of St Andrew's, Holborn. His parents were Quakers, his father being the author of several tracts, largely on the employment of the poor and on prison reform, anticipating ...

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Bicarton, Thomas (fl. 1570–1590), author and teacher of rhetoric, was probably born in St Andrews, where his father, John Bicarton, a saddler, was an early adherent of the protestant congregation—but an unruly member. In 1559 John had become trustee for the property of the expelled Dominican community. Five years later, by refusing to present one of ...

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Brown, Thomas (1778–1820), philosopher and poet, was born on 9 January 1778 at the manse of Kirkmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire, the youngest of thirteen children of the Revd Samuel Brown (1724–1779), minister of Kirkmabreck and Kirkdale, and of Margaret Smith (1735–1817), daughter of John Smith...

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Thomas Brown (1778–1820) by Henry Cousins, pubd 1845 (after George Watson, 1806) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Burley, Walter (b. 1274/5, d. in or after 1344), philosopher and commentator on Aristotle, was born (on the evidence of a note in one of his own works which records his age as sixty-two in 1337) in 1274 or 1275, possibly either at ...

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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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P. E. Matheson

revised by H. C. G. Matthew

Courtney, William Leonard (1850–1928), philosopher and journalist, was born at Poona, India, on 5 January 1850, the youngest in the family of three sons and three daughters of William Courtney, of the Indian Civil Service, and his wife, Ann Edwardes, daughter of Captain Edward Scott RN...

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Cyples, William (1831–1882), philosopher and poet, was born on 31 August 1831 at Longton in Staffordshire. He was the second child of George Cyples and his wife, Ann, née Steward. Both parents worked in the potteries. He was largely self-educated but he owed his initial education to his mother, a strong-minded woman. He became a journalist, edited several provincial newspapers, and contributed to many leading periodicals, as well as publishing some anonymous novels, a book of verse—...

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See Hartley [married names Gallichan; Lewis], Catherine Gasquoine

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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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Hake, Alfred Egmont (1849–1916), author and social philosopher, was born at Guildhall Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, on 12 October 1849, the fourth son and sixth of seven children of the physician and poet Thomas Gordon Hake (1809–1895), and his wife, Lucy née...

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Thomas Ernest Hulme (1883–1917) by unknown photographer, 1914 Getty Images

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Hulme, Thomas Ernest (1883–1917), philosopher and poet, was born on 16 September 1883 at Gratton, Horton, Staffordshire, the eldest of two sons and one daughter of Thomas Hulme (1853–1933), a gentleman farmer who later went into the ceramic transfer business, and his wife, ...