Christmas Humphreys was one of the key people in the history of Twentieth Century Western Buddhism.
He was born in 1901 in London, son of the jurist Sir Travers Humphreys. Humphreys himself would later become a judge. While he was studying at university, he came across, and developed an interest in Buddhism. This led him to, in 1924, found the Buddhist Society in London, which is still active today. The society hold classes in Buddhism and meditation and also publishes a quarterly journal named The Middle Way. The society, reflecting Humphreys' belief that Buddhism in the west should draw on all forms of Buddhism, is an umbrella organisation for all major schools; Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Humphreys himself was most drawn to Theravada and Zen, as were the majority of the early English Buddhists.
He has edited and written many books, 34 being on mainly Buddhist subjects, his writing takes a rather populist in comparison to the academic approach that was common of his era. He was also involved with the early Theosophical Society of Madame Blavatsky which, although still in existence, are no longer significantly active.
The early Buddhist popularisers that he had associations with were Edward Conze, Jiyu Kennet and Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki who were all instrumental in popularising both Soto and Rinzai Zen in the West.
He retired from his job as a judge in 1976, and devoted the last years of his life to Buddhism, remaining president of the Buddhist Society until his death in 1983.
- Christmas Humphreys: A Buddhist Judge In
Twentieth Century London By Damien P. Horigan, Korean Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 24. p. 1-16
- The Buddhist Society UK: www.thebuddhistsociety.org.uk/