G W Foote essay contest launched

G W Foote essay contest launched

Today, October 17, is the 100th anniversary the death of George William Foote, founder of the Freethinker. Foote, who launched the Freethinker in 1881, edited the publication until he died, aged 65, in 1915.

To mark this important date, the Freethinker today announces the launch an essay competition with a prize of £250 going to the winner.

Entrants are asked to pen essays not exceeding 1,500 words based any one of the three following Foote quotes:

• Religious bigotry is never more vicious than when it has a large infusion of hypocrisy (from ‘Defence of Free Speech Before Lord Coleridge’).

• Free speech and Freethought go together. If one is hampered the other languishes.  (“Gospel of Freethought”, reprinted in Flowers of Freeethought, volume 1, 1893).

• The whole truth of life may be summed up in a few words. Happiness is the only good, suffering the only evil, and selfishness the only sin (also from “Gospel of Freethought).

Closing date for the competition is December 31, 2015 and the winner – chosen by members of the G W Foote editorial board – will be announced on January 31, 2016.

Please mark entries G W Foote Essay Contest and email them to

The winning essay, as well as four of the best runner-up entries (depending on the number of submissions received), will be published during February on the Freethinker website.

Note: A comprehensive collection of Foote’s writings can be found on Freethought Archives.

17 responses to “G W Foote essay contest launched”

  1. Head Teacher says:

    Sorry for OT on this one but this is important.

    Check this link …

    The Police / BBC / and everyone else who thinks this is a racist incident has got it wrong.

    This is a case of someone expressing their disgust at the real threat islam represents to civilised countries. Wherever islam is present there is trouble generated by the intolerance and hatred and violence it brings, indeed which it pushes to further the agenda of global islamic domination.

    And I bet there are hundreds of millions of Europeans and others who want to express the same opinions as this woman. This is not racism – its a response to the abomination of islam and all it stands for.

  2. Broga says:

    G.W.Foote: If I were an idolater I would bow before G.W. Foote or, at least in admiration for his writing. I decided to dip into Foote’s writing in the Freethought Archives. I began with “Arrows of Freethought” and getting on for an hour later got know further.

    The comments are so modern and the criticism so pungent that they can be read with pleasure today. The dismemberment of the Booths, father and son, and their hypocrisy, greed and exploiting of their followers is also funny. The comments on the royals is also relevant to today as indeed is so much else. Not too long ago we heard of the Bishop of Carlisle and his inane explanation of the flooding in Carlisle. Foote takes his equally fatuous predecessor apart in the early 1880′.

    There are differences between the early 1880s and today. A striking difference is the huge income of bishops, and the affluence of clergy, to today. The royals also seem able to get whatever money they want with no questions asked. No internet then, of course.

    The writing is of the highest quality. Thanks, Barry – a considerable find for me and a pleasure to read.

  3. Barry Duke says:

    “This is a case of someone expressing their disgust at the real threat islam represents to civilised countries.”

    No it bloody isn’t, head teacher. Your link does not show the actual footage which I have just examined.What I saw was an unprovoked and incredibly uncivilised verbal attack on Muslims.

    Here is the link to the video:

    A note to others commenting here: Please stick to the subject. If you stumble across links to reports that have no bearing on any given topic, email them to me and I will decide whether or not they merit a separate post.

  4. Marcus says:

    I too have just looked at the video, and what I saw was a lunatic, completely out of control, screaming abuse. Whatever one thinks of Islam – and personally I detest it along with all other faiths – such behaviour is ABSOLUTELY unacceptable. But I do think that the BBC was wrong to describe this a racist incident.

  5. lucy1 says:

    I haven’t watched it. But you should never assume that a silent person you meet has any particular view. Even if a woman is in islamic clothes, you cannot assume her views are extreme, or even collusive. She may be, for example, on her way to a safe house where she can escape a forced marriage. Not your place to judge.

    Having said that, Islam, like all the fucking religions, is a pile of evil shit. But individual muslims may be decent people, as individual xtians etc etc. Whatever gets you through the night.

  6. Peter Sykes says:

    Barry Duke:
    Spot on response.

  7. Dee Gee says:

    I think I will give this contest a try — is it open to people outside the UK?

    I love the three option topics.

    And a big hooray for G.W. Foote – I will pen a blog post of my own in his honor.

    As to everywhere you find Islam rant — shame shame shame. That is not true. There are plenty of communities that have Islamic residents without any more or less problems from them than from anyone else, including those who follow other major or minor religions, agnostics, and yes even atheists who are as human in their foibles as anyone else.

    What a terrible expression of bigotry from head teacher. Not much of a teacher, and not showing sound use of his head either.

  8. tonye says:


    Is there a minimum number of words for the essay?


  9. Lurker111 says:

    Re: G.W.Foote poster and the “millions of witches.”

    There’s evidence for much witch-burning. But “millions”? Source needed, please. Because the opposition exaggerates and lies doesn’t mean we should.

    Here’s one source with different figures:

  10. dennis says:

    10/17/2015 what a G. W. Foote celebration this woman expressing her self, maybe with a loose tongue but not all of us have the beauty of language dripping from our intellect to our tongues. it may have been hard for some to hear her words but something was said to her that set her off. the lady who left did the correct thing. don’t want to hear obtuse language leave. this MARINE can string obtuse language together especially when an anti G.W. Foote hater sounds off.

  11. Barry Duke says:

    I should have pointed out that this contest is open to all, not just to writers in the UK, and the length of submissions should be around 1,500 words.

  12. barriejohn says:

    Lurker: Those are the actual words of G W Foote being quoted there, so there’s no point in asking him for a source at this stage!

    Dennis: Can you explain what you mean a bit more clearly, please?

    it may have been hard for some to hear her words but something was said to her that set her off.

    don’t want to hear obtuse language leave.


  13. dennis says:

    @barriejohn “it may be hard for some to hear her words but something was said to her that set her off.” ok I will try to clarify. the lady got mad and vented her anger with vile language instead of violence. good for her. hope that helps. the lady with the child got up and left, good for her. was their a meeting of the minds? no, I am sorry.

    “Really” yes, I do not conform to societal pressure when it comes to my vile utterances. yes, Bob’s utterances or no less vile with your additions but more colorful. I do hope I have not disturbed your day, Sir.

  14. barriejohn says:

    Dennis: I am not Barry Duke, so I have nothing to do with Bob’s expletives. And I see no excuse for that outburst of personal abuse in the video.

  15. dennis says:

    @barriejohn sorry for my miss identification. I felt stupid as i should. In the video i can not find fault with either human here. we are not helped by the video it only reports what happen after the initial eruption as i view the video.

    @Barry Duke thanks for the homework on G.W. Foote. i am hoping for more pearls of wisdom as i reread his works.

  16. Cali Ron says:

    No matter the provocation the diatribe was uncivilized and classless.

    @Barry Duke: Looking forward to reading the essays to see how they apply Foote’s writings and reasoning’s to the modern world.