Dr Halliday Sutherland

Tuberculosis pioneer. Best-selling author. Convert to Catholicism. Enemy of eugenics, and eugenicists.

Secret admirers


It is interesting to note that some contemporary writers about Marie Stopes sometimes signal that they are disturbed by her eugenic beliefs. For example:

I have no doubt that these authors sincerely abhor eugenics, but their statements beg these questions:

Troubling—to whom?

Uncomfortable—for whom?

Deplored—by whom?

Given that Stopes’ interest in eugenics was “unapologetic,” [1] we can assume that she was neither troubled nor discomfited by, nor deplored her own beliefs. This leaves only the authors and their readers as the afflicted persons.

These authors probably do not realise that their statements indicate a close emotional kinship with Dr. Halliday Sutherland. After all, these same emotions impelled him to oppose the eugenic statements of Pearson in 1912 (The Soil and the Seed in Tuberculosis), of Stopes in 1922 (Birth Control) and of Darwin in 1936 (Laws of Life).

That is where the similarity ends, because for Sutherland there were two differences. Firstly, denouncing Edwardian class-based eugenics today is to swim with the current. In his time, it was to swim against it, and to oppose the most influential and powerful persons of that era: Ellis, Galton, Huxley, Keynes, Pearson, Russell, Shaw, Stopes, Webb, Webb and Wells.

Secondly, Sutherland did not have the historical hindsight of Nazi crimes to guide him.

Are these authors perhaps his secret, albeit unconscious, admirers?  If ever I do get around to setting up the Halliday Sutherland Appreciation Society, these authors will be invited to join the “secret admirers” chapter and will receive a free t-shirt that proclaims:

I admire Halliday Sutherland—I just don’t realise it


[1] Cohen, D., 1996. Marie Stopes and the Mothers’ Clinics.  Page 78. London, The Galton Institute.


You can read the article which rebuts Tom Nash’s The Trials of Marie Stopes here.

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This entry was posted on 1 June 2016 by in Eugenics, Opposition to eugenics, Stopes v Sutherland, Tuberculosis.

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Centenary of the Stopes v. Sutherland libel trial

February 21st, 2023
4.4 years to go.