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English Historical Review: ‘The Unholy Mrs Knight’ and the BBC

11 May 2012

On the OUPblog, Callum Brown talks about the threat to the ‘Christian Nation’ that occurred in 1955 when Margaret Knight became the first female atheist to be allowed to broadcast her views in Britain.

"In 1955 Margaret Knight became the most hated woman in Britain. She was vilified and demonised in virtually every British newspaper, and thousands of letters attacking her were sent by ordinary Britons to the BBC, to the papers and to her personally. Parents wrote fearing for the safety of their children, bishops and priests criticised her impudence, whilst well-known authors like Dorothy L Sayers castigated her ignorance. Hounded by journalists and pursued by photographers, the smiling image of Mrs Knight in her ‘Sunday-best hat’ and coat appeared in most newspapers. She was the nation’s number one ‘folk devil’ of 1955."

Read the blog post: ‘The Unholy Mrs Knight’ and the BBC

Read the paper: ‘The Unholy Mrs Knight’ and the BBC: Secular Humanism and the Threat to the ‘Christian Nation’, c.1945–60 (free for a limited time)