Hemming, (Clifford) James (1909-2007) educationist, writer and humanist

James Hemming (1909-2007)ADMINISTRATIVE/BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORY: James Hemming was born in 1909 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, had a sporadic formal education, but he earned a BA through a correspondence course at Birkbeck College, London. He taught in schools in Bristol, Bournemouth and lastly at Isleworth grammar school, Middlesex. When the second world war broke out, he stayed at Isleworth and taught English and PE. He started a campaign to get the cane abolished in schools, bringing considerable odium from the educational establishment.

His first book, The Child is Right - a Challenge to Parents and Other Adults (1947), was written in collaboration with Josephine Balls. Instead of God is subtitled A Pragmatic Reconsideration of Beliefs and Values; The Betrayal of Youth tackles the secondary educational system, warning against an overemphasis on academic values. He gave much time and energy to the British Humanist Association, serving as its President between 1977 and 1980. His other books included Problems of Adolescent Girls, Individual Morality, Sex Education in Schools, Sex and Love, and You and Your Adolescent.

Hemming appeared as a defence witness in the Penguin Books obscenity trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1960 and was a regular panel member on the 1970s BBC programme If You Think You've Got Problems. During the 1980s and 90s, he was a humanist representative on the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, an honorary associate of the Rationalist Association and a vice-president of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association.

SCOPE AND CONTENT: Papers of educationalist, writer and humanist (Clifford) James Hemming (1909-2007), including:

  • curriculum vitae and obituary notices, 2007-2008.
  • personal material, including texts of interviews, cartoons and poems/jottings, 1987-2008.
  • miscellaneous articles, papers and published letters, 1951-1999.
  • correspondence with David Attenborough, Jack Straw, Tony Blair and Sir Julian Huxley, 1962-2000.
  • press cuttings and ephemera, 1945-1960.
  • papers regarding involvement with the World Education Fellowship, 1969-2008.
  • programme for the James Hemming Essay Prize, 2009.
  • copy of Hemming's PhD, Some Problems of Adolescent Girls, 1957.
  • photographs, 1977-2007.