John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic
J.N. Duggan

John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic by J.N. Duggan

John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic
J.N. Duggan

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About the Author

J.N. Duggan was born in Sheffield, England, in 1938 but came to live in Ireland at the age of 12. She returned to Sheffield, to train as a nurse and later did her BSc at University College Dublin. She now lives in Galway.

She is primarily an author of historical biographies. Her book Sophia of Hanover, Winter Princess 1630-1714 was published by Peter Owen Publishers in 2010. She is currently working on a life of Hans Axel Fersen, friend and confidante of Marie Antoinette.

Her official website can be found at

Also by J.N. Duggan

Sophia of Hanover: Winter Princess by J.N. Duggan

by J.N. Duggan
A short biography offering a concise introduction and critical appraisal of the the life and work of John Toland (1670-1722) – scholar and philosopher of international renown; prolific writer on important political and religious issues of his day; a radical republican who challenged the divine right of kings; a diplomat whose Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover is still quoted by historians of the period; the first person to be called a freethinker (by Bishop Berkeley); the first to advocate full citizenship and equal rights for Jewish people.

These are just some of his notable achievements yet he remains largely unknown in his home country.

Toland was born in 1670 and raised on the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal. He died in London, in 1722, the city where he had resided for most of his life, although he was also a frequent visitor to the continent. In his considerable volume of writings, he challenged political and ecclesiastical authority. He is chiefly remembered today for what was, in fact, his first work, Christianity Not Mysterious (1696) – a book which was denounced in the English and Irish Parliaments and publicly burned in Dublin.

This volume includes the most comprehensive bibliography of John Toland works available at the time of publication.

According to the author, this book "makes no claim to being a 'Life' of Toland, nor is it an exhaustive enquiry into his enormous literary output or extraordinary range of interests. I leave that to others better qualified than me. However, I hope it will serve to introduce all those young Irishmen and women who have never heard of him, to one of their most far-seeing and forward-thinking countrymen."

A book that will be of interest to Toland's considerable international following, as well as those who are new to the story of an interesting character from a country that has produced more than a few.

Ní bheidh a leitheid arís ann.

John Toland: Ireland's Forgotten Philosopher, Scholar ... and Heretic by J.N. Duggan
Non-fiction; biography, historical, Irish history, European history.
48 pages illustrated in black and white with bibliography and chronology
First published in Ireland in 2010 by TAF Publishing.
ISBN: 978-1-907522-08-6

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Reviews for this Book

Toland is perhaps one of the most interesting characters in Irish history. He rose from obscurity in county Donegal to be a leading figure on the European stage, whose writings influenced princes and politicians. Duggan ... presents a brief, readable account of Toland and his times, quoting his subject and others extensively, and providing ... facsimiles ... a chronology ... bibliography of Toland's philosophical and political writings. - Books Ireland, December 2010.

A work with a clear sense of vindication. It is a work that aims to awaken interest in philosophy and theology of John Toland - Jordi Morillas, Agon. Full review in Spanish available here.

A concise introduction to the Irish Voltaire. The text is well written and the author gives a good sense of the personality of the man. Toland was notorious for his championing of reason over religion. He was the first person ever to be referred to as a "freethinker," and Toland himself coined the term "pantheism" to describe the philosophy of Spinoza, of whom he was a disciple. A contemporary of such philosophical luminaries as Berkeley, Leibniz, and Locke, Toland never enjoyed the renown or respect they received, largely because his works were too controversial for his time. The picture Duggan paints here is of a man who not only welcomed such controversy but enthusiastically pursued it. ... It's an enlightening piece of writing and worth the time spent. Its value is increased by a comprehensive bibliography of Toland's works. Anyone looking to learn more about this lesser-known figure of the Enlightenment should consider this a useful addition to their Kindle library. - Karl Janssen (Old Books by Dead Guys)

Toland was a remarkable scholar who professed, in Duggan's interpretation, what we would now call liberalism: freedom of information and conscience, rights for Jews and people of all religions, a fair judiciary. He also had insight into early Irish texts. ... Congratulations to Duggan for reminding us of the life of this strange and unique thinker. - Rory Brennan, Books Ireland, February 2013.
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