THOMPSON, Sir Henry. Modern Cremation. Cremation: its history and practice to the present date with information relating to all recently improved arrangements made by the Cremation Society of England. Smith, Elder and Co. 1899.
8vo. Original red cloth, black lettering to upper board and spine; pp. xiv + 187 + [4, ads, uncut], 5 plates, text illustrations; binding a little dulled, very good. Provenance: inscribed by author to title page, with bookplate and library label of the South Place Ethical Society to front endpapers. Founded in 1793 and now known as the Conway Hall Ethical Society, this is the oldest surviving freethought society in the world.
Third edition, revised. Sir Henry Thompson (1820-1904) was a distinguished surgeon who became the leading advocate for cremation in the United Kingdom. He founded the Cremation Society of Great Britain, and it was his work that led to the foundation of the country's first crematorium in Woking in 1878. It was not allowed to be used on human bodies until 1884. The gradual acceptance of cremation led to the opening of nine more crematoria in Thompson's lifetime; the opening of Birmingham crematorium in 1903 was his last public act.