Ashley Montagu

On this date in 1905, Ashley Montagu (ne Israel Ehrenberg) was born in East London. He adopted his new last name in homage of Lady Mary Montagu, a freethinking feminist from the 18th century. Montagu graduated from the University College, London, and received a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University in 1937. He broke ground as an anthropologist in writing about race. His book, Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race (1942) was his most influential work on that score. Some of his 60 other books included Coming Into Being of the Australian Aborigines (1937), Race and Kindred Delusions (1939), and The Natural Superiority of Women (1953). Montagu applied his work as a social biologist in writing on diverse topics, including gun control, peace, evolution, marriage, children, emotions, and even a biography, The Elephant Man, about the Victorian John Merrick, which was made into a movie in 1980. His numerous articles, popular and scientific, included "Nothing Can Be Said in Favor of Smoking" (1942). The American Humanist Association named the humanitarian "Humanist of the Year" in 1995. D. 1999.

“The Good Book--one of the most remarkable euphemisms ever coined.”

—Ashley Montagu, cited by Warren Allen Smith in Who's Who in Hell

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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