Joseph McCabe< Back to author list
The McCabe children attended the local Catholic schools where Joseph attained the stature of a model pupil and a zealous believer. (The details of McCabe's early life are in his autobiography and literary classic, Eighty Years a Rebel, published by E. Haldeman-Julius.) At the age of 16 (1883) McCabe entered the preparatory college at the Gorton Franciscan Monastery. He was ordained at age 23 (1890) and became a Catholic priest. Then, in recognition of his outstanding intellectual prowess, he was appointed to a prominent post of "professor of philosophy." However, as his knowledge deepened his doubts grew.
At the age of 23 he renounced the church and thereafter dedicated his life to promoting intellectual emancipation. It was during the Christmas break of 1895, while at the Franciscan Monastery, that he "descended" into the final crisis of faith.
McCabe was a very popular lecturer and gave many thousands of lectures for over five decades throughout the world, including frequent lecture tours in the United States. McCabe himself stated that, "At least one million folk have heard me lecture in America and Britain."
McCabe exchanged many letters with well-known politicians, scientists (most notably, Ernst Haeckel), and writers of his time. This correspondence included such famous men as Bertrand Russell, Arthur Conan Doyle, Francisco Ferrer, a Spanish anarchist, and the famous historian and writer, H.G. Wells, among many others.
It was McCabe's influence that is largely credited with convincing H.G. Wells of the nefarious nature of the Catholic church, to such an extent that Wells went on to write, "The most evil institution in the world is the Roman Catholic Church."
Haldeman-Julius, once wrote that, "If I had done nothing more than bring McCabe's talents to the attention of what has become a world-wide audience--if I had done only this job, I believe I'd have established myself as a force for mass education and enlightenment with immediate and constructive effects on the thinking portion of the population. My association with McCabe has been enough to build a career for anyone."
McCabe was an ardent student and supporter of the theory of evolution. His translation of Ernst Haeckel's work on evolution in 1900 (McCabe retitled it The Riddle of the Universe) put McCabe on the world's literary map. McCabe's translation sold an astonishing number of copies for that or any other period of time--over half a million copies in Germany alone and a quarter of a million copies elsewhere!
In 1949 Haldeman-Julius stated that by his own reckoning McCabe had written 121 "Little Blue Books" and 122 "Big Blue Books," for a total of some 7,600,000 words. For this monumental output the author was paid a total of about $100,000. McCabe, according to his own estimate, claimed that in his 50 years of writing he had penned the astonishing total of 15 million words--a record that may never be equaled in all of literary history!
You owe it to yourselves to acquaint and reacquaint and enrich and enlighten your life by learning more about this most remarkable man, Joseph McCabe.
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