Grant Allen

On this date in 1848, author Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen was born near Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His father was a Protestant minister. Allen studied at the College Imperial of Dieppe, the King Edward’s School of Birmingham and Oxford University. He taught at a college for Blacks at Spanish Town, Jamaica, for four years, where his agnostic and other progressive views matured.

He returned to England and began writing books. His well-regarded Physiological Aesthetics (1877) was dedicated to Herbert Spencer. Other books include Vignettes from Nature (1881), The Evolutionist at Large (1881), The Colours of Flowers (1882) and The Evolution of the Idea of God (1897). The Hand of God, a collection of essays, was published posthumously in 1909 by the Rationalist Press Association. The Evolution of the Idea of God offered a theory of religion comparable to Spencer’s “ghost theory.” The young G. K. Chesterton said of Allen’s book, “It would be much more interesting if God wrote a book on the evolution of the idea of Grant Allen.”

Allen married twice and had one son, Jerrard. He died of liver cancer at age 51 at his home in 1899.

Freedom From Religion Foundation