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"Mark, the Youngest Disciple", Eagle, 1954, art by Giorgio Bellavitis

The Reverend Prebendary Edward Chad Varah, CH, CBE, was born in Barton-upon-Humber, Lincolnshire, on 12 November 1911, the son of an Anglican vicar. He was educated at Worksop College in Nottinghamshire, and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Keble College, Oxford, graduating with a third class degree in 1933. He then attended Lincoln Theological College, and was ordained deadon in 1935 and priest in 1936. He married Susan Whanslaw in 1940, and they had five children.

Having taken the funeral in 1935 of a teenage girl who had committed suicide, fearing that her first menstruation was a sign of a sexually transmitted disease, Varah became an inveterate campaigner on the issues of sex education and suicide, and set up marriage guidance classes for young couples at each of his churches. He founded the Samaritans in 1953, sat on the board of reference of the adult magazine Forum, and was a patron of the Terence Higgins Trust from 1987 to 1999, and the Outsiders' Club (1984-2002). In 1992 he founded Men Against Genital Mutilation of Girls.

While Vicar of Holy Trinity, Blackburn (1942-49), he was editor of the diocesan magazine, The Crozier. In 1948 he was one of a group of editor-clerics who founded the Society of Christian Publicity, alongside Marcus Morris, for whose magazine, The Anvil, he had written articles. When Morris founded the Eagle in 1950, he wrote stories and scripts for the comic, from the prose adventure serial "Plot Against the World" from the first issue, to biographical strips like "The Great Adventurer" (1950-, art by Frank Hampson and studio, Norman Williams), "Patrick, Fighter for Truth" (1951, art by Norman Williams), "Mark, the Youngest Disciple" (1954-55, art by Giorgio Bellavitis) and "The Travels of Marco Polo" (1959, art by Frank Bellamy and Peter Jackson). He was a scientific consultant for "Dan Dare", and wrote scripts for the strip when Frank Hampson was ill. He compiled a regular feature on remarkable occurences, "It Couldn't Happen... But It Did!". He also wrote for the Eagle's sister publications Girl, Swift and Robin.

He wrote plays for television, including Nobody Understands Miranda (1972) and Telephone Masturbators and How to Befriend Them (1976), as well as two books about Russian Orthodox church music, several books about the Samaritans, and an autobiography, Before I Die Again (1992). He was appointed OBE in 1969, CBE in 1995, and CH in 2000. His wife, Sarah, was president of the Mothers' Union from 1970 to 1976, and was appointed OBE in 1976. When he retired in 2003, he was oldest incumbent in the Church of England at 92. He died of pneumonia on 8 November 2007, aged 95, at the North Hampshire Hospital in Basingstoke.


  • Alan Clark, Dictionary of British Comic Artists, Writers and Editors, The British Library, 1998, pp. 171-172
  • Steve Holland, Chad Varah (1911-2007), Bear Alley, 9 November 2007
  • Peter Palumbo, "Varah, (Edward) Chad (1911–2007)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2011, accessed 18 May 2014

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