Emanuel Haldeman-Julius : Pocket Series and the Little Blue Books

Resources for Collectors: Author Profile of Joseph McCabe

Portrait of Joseph McCabe circa 1910 (public domain) Joseph Martin McCabe was born to William Thomas McCabe and Harriet Kirk on November 11, 1867, in Macclesfield, Cheshire, England.1 His parents were both Roman Catholics of some fervor, and their children were educated in the local Roman Catholic schools, where it was said Joseph was an enthusiastic student, and displayed all the zeal of his father.

In 1883 Joseph McCabe entered the preparatory college of the recently completed Monastery of St. Francis (Gorton Franciscan Monastery) in Manchester, England,2 the largest Parish church built in England in over 200 years.3 Unlike many of his companions at the college, McCabe felt "no definite craving for the life ... certainly no 'voice speaking within me' to which I felt a duty to submit."4 Rather, McCabe cites it was merely the influence of a lay brother with whom he had become friends that led him to commit to monastic life.5

His preparatory education would not leave him roaming solely the halls of Gorton Monastery, however. Prior to taking his vows he would find himself transferred first to Killarney, Ireland, and then to the Borough of Newham in London, England.6 McCabe was finally ordained a priest in 1890, and assumed the name of Father Antony.7

The philosophical and emotions struggles that McCabe endured during his service in the Church is well documented in his work My Twelve Years in a Monastery (Little Blue Book #439) as well as his autobiography Eighty Years a Rebel (Big Blue Book B-636). Suffice it to say that what little romance McCabe may have first had with the priesthood would not last. On Christmas Eve, 1895, McCabe found himself unable to bear the doubt and spiritual bankruptcy that had become his intimate companion over the previous decade, and he left the priesthood soon after.

McCabe did not flee the Church with ambitions of a quiet life; his departure was far more akin to the rattling of sabres in his own private war. For the remainder of his life, McCabe would serve as a champion of militant atheism, and a fierce advocate of freethought. His rejection of organized religion, in particular the Catholic Church, worked its way into virtually every tome he penned, and every lecture he gave.

At the close of the century, McCabe would take a wife, Beatrice, and would soon find himself a father of a different sort: parent to two boys, and two girls. The vehemence of his convictions, however, would find him separated from his family for great lengths of time on lecture tours, or sequestered away in his study working on his latest manuscript. This absence from family life is often cited as the primary catalyst for his divorce from Beatrice in 1925.8

Joseph McCabe was the Little Blue Book series most prolific author, responsible for writing or contributing to some 130 booklets between 1920 and 1955. He is also responsible for the largest sequential run of titles, spanning Little Blue Books #1762 to #1811. McCabe was in every regard Haldeman-Julius' "Golden Boy", an author often cited as the greatest freethinker of the times, a true champion of rationality, and the example by which all other Little Blue Book authors could be gauged.

McCabe is the atomic bomb of the intellectual world. He is destructive, because he knows there are many things that have to be destroyed before man will be free to advance without superstitions and sacred falsehoods. He is constructive, because he offers the victims of bigotry and supernaturalism the road to enlightenment and truth-seeking. McCabe is a revolutionary of the intellect, a teacher, a critic, and a guide. > Emanuel Haldeman-Julius9

McCabe passed away January 10, 1955. Imprinted on his tombstone is an epitaph of his own design: "He was a rebel to his last day."10

Joseph McCabe : Bibliography of Little Blue Books

For more information on Little Blue Book authors, and biographic data on specific writers/contributors, please see our article Torch Bearers in the War on Ignorance!.

Source Citations
1,2,7,8Hal Verb, "Joseph McCabe: Atheist Prophet for Our Time." Free Thought Today, 2003. HighBeam Research. (Accessed May 3, 2009). [http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P3-621385391.html]
3The Monastery of St. Francis and Gorton Monastery Trust, "The History of St Francis and Gorton Monastery", (Accessed May 3, 2009). [http://www.gortonmonastery.co.uk/history.html]
4,5Joseph McCabe, "My Twelve Years in a Monastery", Fourth Impression, Google Books (Accessed May 6, 2009). [http://books.google.com/books?id=R4bnJd-1MEkC&printsec=frontcover]
6Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, "Joseph McCabe" (Accessed May 6, 2009). [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_McCabe]
9Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, My Second 25 Years; Instead of a footnote An Autobiography (1949), Page 21, Haldeman-Julius Publications
10The Secular Web, "Joseph McCabe", Internet Infidels Inc. (Accessed May 6, 2009). [http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/joseph_mccabe/]