Who was Bertrand Russell?
Bertrand Russell was a philosopher and mathematician.
As a political activist he was particularly associated with the
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
Date and Place of Birth:
18th May 1872, at Cleddon Hall, Trelleck, Monmouthshire,
russell's father was John, the son of Lord John
Russell, 1st Earl Russell and two-time British Liberal Prime Minister
(1840's and 1860's) and his mother was Katherine daughter of Mother
Katherine, daughter of 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley. His
parents died when he was very young and he was brought up by his
grandmother, the widow of Lord John Russell.
Private tuition at home by a series of tutors.
He was shown a work by Euclid by his brother Frank and became fascinated
for the rest of his life. Trinity College, Cambridge. He also found
the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley
Chronology/Biography of Bertrand Russell:
of his mother Katherine of diphtheria and his older sister Rachel.
1876: Death of father
of bronchitis. Russell's grandfather and grandmother overturned
his father's will to win custody of Russell and his brother and
not bring them up as agnostics.
1878: Death of his
grandfather. Lady Russell takes over his upbringing at at Pembroke
Lodge in Richmond Park, London.
1889: Visited the
Paris Exhibition with the Pearsall Smith family of American Quakers
to whom he was 'Lord John's grandson.' Climbed the Eiffel Tower
soon after it was completed.
1890: Russell goes
to Trinity College, Cambridge studying mathematics and moral sciences.
1893: Awarded a BA
in Mathematics First Class.
1894: Completes his
Moral Sciences Tripos during the summer a goes to Paris to be an
attache at the British Embassy. After his marriage and a few months
in Berlin studying social democracy he went to live in Haslemere.
1896: Appointed as
a lecturer of German Social Democracy at the London School of Economics.
1900: Visits the
International Mathematical Congress in Paris.
1901: First discovers
Russell's Paradox, one of set-theoretical paradoxes, where a set
appears to be a member of itself if it is not a member of itself.
1902: Begins corresponding
with the Philosopher Gottlob Frege. He became a member of the "Coefficients
Dining Club" This was a group of social reformers set up by
Sidney and Beatrice Webb who were members of the Fabian Society.
1903:Stakes his claim
as an important philosopher with the publication of "the Principles
of Mathematics. "Works with his friend Alfred Whitehead on
the mathematical logic of Frege and Guiseppe Peano.
1905: Russell develops
the Theory of Descriptions". Writes an article for the Journal
"The Mind" on Denoting.
1906: He is elected
to the London Mathematical Society.
1907: Runs for Parliament
as a Women's Suffrage Candidate and is defeated.
1908: He is elected
a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. Becomes a Fellow of Trinity
1910: Appointed as
a lecturer at Trinity College, Cambridge. Begins the publication
of "Principia Mathematica" with Whitehead. Receives an
approach from an Austrian Engineering student Ludwig Wittgenstein,
whom he took on immediately as a PhD student when he saw examples
of his work. Russell thought Wittgenstein a genius and encouraged
his work on logic.
1911: Meets Wittgenstein
in person for the first time. Russell is elected President of the
1914: He opposed
the First World War on pacifist grounds.
Flat in which Bertrand Russell lives near the British Museum
(© Anthony Blagg)
1916: He received
a fine of £110 for his pacifist views and was later dismissed
from his post at Trinity College after writing an anti-conscription
1918: Russell was
sent to Brixton Prison for six months due to continuing anti-war
protests particularly against the involvement of the U.S.A. in the
war and in particular an article he had written in the journal "Tribunal".
1920: Travels to
Russia with a British Government delegation to study Bolshevism
and had a one hour conversation with Vladimir Lenin. He later went
on to take up a post lecturing in Peking University in China for
one year. He became gravely ill with pneumonia whilst there and
his "death" was reported in the Japanese press.
1921: Gets divorced
from Alys and Marries Dora Black. Birth of his son John on 16 November.
Family settle in Chelsea, London.
1922: Russell again
defeated at an election for Parliament. Helped Wittgenstein through
his various bouts of despair and encouraged him to publish the "Tractatus
1923: Birth of his
1927: Opens an Beacon
Hill, an experimental school with his wife at their home, Telegraph
House, near Harting, West Sussex.
1932: Finishes his
involvement with Beacon Hill School although Dora was to continue
until 1943. Death of his brother and he becomes the Third Earl Russell.
1934: Awarded the
Sylvester Medal by the Royal Society and the De Morgan Medal by
the London Mathematical Society.
1935: Divorces Dora
due to her adultery with an American journalist, Griffin Barry whom
she had had two children by.
1936: Marriage to
Oxford undergraduate Patricia Spence often known as Peter. She had
been his children's governess during the summer of 1930. 1937:
Birth of his son Conrad. Lectured on the Science of Power.
1938: Russell supported
the policy of appeasement of Germany but later came to realise that
Hitler had to be defeated. Went to the United States to teach.
1939: Appointed Professor
of Philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles.
1940: Appointed lecturer
at City College New York, but this was withdrawn after a public
protests and a legal judgment that Russell was not morally fit to
1941: Russell took
part in the radio programme the Brains Trust on the BBC Home Service.
the Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania but fights a law suit for
wrongful dismissal against them and wins.
1944: Reelected as
a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
work by which he has become most famous for "A History of Western
Philosophy". This became a best-selling title and gave him
a steady income for the rest of his life.
1948: At a speech
at Westminster School he shocked some of his listeners at a New
Commonwealth meeting by seeming to suggest a pre-emptive nuclear
strike on the Soviet Union. In October Russell was one of 24 survivors
in an airliner crash on his way to Trondheim in Norway to give one
of his lectures.
Order of Merit.
1950: Russell awarded
the Nobel Prize for Literature, in recognition of his varied writings
championing humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.
1952: Gets divorced
from Patricia and marries Edith Finch. They had known each other
since 1925 and Edith had taught at a college in Philadelphia.
1955: Release of
the Russell-Einstein Manifesto at Caxton Hall London calling for
nuclear disarmament. the document was signed by 11 prominent nuclear
physicists and intellectuals.
1957: Elected President
of the Pugwash Conference on Science and World affairs.
1958: Becomes the
founding President of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
for one week with his wife for civil disobedience for organising
1962: During the
Cuban Missile Crisis Russell exchanged telegrams with Nikita Khrushchev
the General Secretary of the Soviet Union who assured him the U.S.S.R.
would not be reckless.
the Bertrand Russell peace foundation. He opposes the Vietnam War.
He became the first recipient of the Jerusalem Prize, for writers
concerned with the freedom of the individual.
up his membership card for the Labour Party.
1967: Publishes the
first volume of his autobiography.
a statement condemning Israeli aggression in the Middle East and
calling for a withdrawal from the occupied Territories.
- 1896: "German
Social Democracy, a study in politics".
- 1897: "Foundations
- 1900: "A
Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz".
- 1903: "Principles
of Mathematics", vol. 1.
- 1910: "Philosophical
Essays", (with Dr. A. N. Whitehead)
- 1912: "The
Problems of Philosophy".
- 1916: "Principles
of Social Reconstruction".
- 1919: "Introduction
to Mathematical Philosophy". (written
- 1920: "The
Practice and Theory of Bolshevism".
“The Analysis of Mind”.
- 1923: "The
ABC of Atoms".
- 1924: "Logical
- 1925: "The
ABC of Relativity".
- 1926: "On
- 1927: "An
Outline of Philosophy", "The
Analysis of Matter".
- 1929: "Marriage
- 1930: "The
Conquest of Happiness".
- 1935: "In
Praise of Idleness".
- 1938: "Power:
a new Social Introduction to its Study".
- 1941: "An
Inquiry into Meaning and Truth".
- 1948: "Human
Knowledge, its Scope and Limits".
- 1949: "Authority
and the Individual".
1. December 1894 to Alys Pearsall Smith.
2. 1921 to Dora Russell.
3. 1936 to Patricia ("Peter") Spence.
4. 1952 to Edith Finch.
Date and Place of Death:
2nd February 1970, Plas
Penrhyn, Penrhyndeudraeth, Merionethshire, Wales, of influenza.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
He was cremated at Colwyn Bay, North Wales,
on 5 February 1970 with no religious ceremony. His ashes were scattered
over the Welsh mountains.There is a memorial plaque in the chapel
at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Places of Interest:
Trinity College, Cambridge.