New book: Letters on Life and Death

SELHuG member Trevor Moore is the co-editor of a fascinating book being published on 7th March, which should appeal to all Humanists.

Words in Pain is a rediscovered treasure. First published anonymously in 1919, these letters from a dying woman to her doctor encapsulate an attitude to death which is fiercely independent of religion but full of hope. Despite being well reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, the book became unavailable until Trevor Moore came across it in the Conway Hall Library and set about discovering who had written the letters and republishing the letters with new background material. He identified the author and her great-granddaughter, Jocelyn Catty, who has coedited the letters and contributed an Afterword describing the unusual circumstances of Jacoby’s death and what followed.

The book will appeal to diverse readers: those who will appreciate the picture of family life and love, interspersed with clear-headed musings on the nature of illness, loss and death; those interested in the development of rationalist thought, humanism and liberal education and in the history of adoption; those who relish its vivid recreation of the social and personal life of its times; and those who will find comfort in its account of coming to terms with death without religion to cushion the blow. As her dialogues with the doctor, a Christian, show, Jacoby is witty and erudite, and rails against the dogmas of organised religion while espousing a passionate morality.