Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, essayist, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. In the early 20th century, Bernard Russell led the British “revolt against idealism”. He is widely held to be one of the 20th century’s premier logicians.
Bertrand Russell Early Life
Bertrand Russell was born on 18 May 1872 at Ravenscroft, Trellech, Monmouthshire, into an influential and liberal family of the British aristocracy.
In June 1874 Russell’s mother died of diphtheria, followed shortly by his sister Rachel’s death. In January 1876, his father died of bronchitis following a long period of depression.
Bertrand and his Frank were placed in the care of their strict paternal grandparents, who lived at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park.
Instead of being sent to school, Russell was taught by governesses and tutors, and thus, acquired a perfect knowledge of French and German.
When Russell was eleven years old, his brother Frank introduced him to the work of Euclid, which he described in his autobiography as “one of the great events of my life, as dazzling as first love.”
Bertrand Russell Young
Russell won a scholarship to read for the Mathematical Tripos at Trinity College, Cambridge, and commenced his studies there in 1890.
Russell was 17 years old in the summer of 1889 when he met the family of Alys Pearsall Smith, an American Quaker five years older.
He soon fell in love with the puritanical, high-minded Alys, and, contrary to his grandmother’s wishes, married her on 13 December 1894.
Russell had left Cambridge in the summer of 1894 and for some months was delegate at the British embassy in Paris.
After spending some months in Berlin studying social democracy, they went to live near Haslemere, where he devoted his time to the study of philosophy.
Bertrand Russell Books
In 1900, he visited the Mathematical Congress at Paris. The ability of the Italian mathematician, Peano and his pupils, and immediately studied Peano’s works.
In 1903, he wrote his first important book, The Principles of Mathematics, and with his friend, Dr. Alfred Whitehead, proceeded to develop and extend the mathematical logic of Peano and Frege.
Soon his book “The Principles of Mathematics” made Russell world-famous in his field.
From time to time, he abandoned philosophy for politics. In 1910, Russell was appointed lecturer at Trinity College.
Bertrand Russell During World War 1
During World War I, Russell was one of the few people to engage in active pacifist activities.
In 1916, because of his lack of a Fellowship, Trinity College dismissed him following his conviction under the Defence of the Realm Act 1914.
After the First World War broke out, he took an active part in the No Conscription movement. Government fined him £100 as he authored of a leaflet criticizing a sentence of two years on a conscientious objector.
In 1918, court sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment for a pacifistic article he had written in the Tribunal. He wrote his book “Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy” (1919) in prison.
Bertrand Russell Lectures around the World
He gave some lectures in London outcome of which was book Analysis of Mind (1921).
In 1920, Russell had paid a short visit to Russia to study the conditions of Bolshevism on the spot. His experiences destroyed his previous tentative support for the revolution.
In the autumn of the same year, he went to China to lecture on philosophy at Peking University.
On his return in September 1921, his first wife divorced him and he married Miss Dora Black. They lived for six years in Chelsea during the winter months and spent the summers near Lands End.
In 1927, he and his wife started a school for young children, which they carried on until 1932.
He succeeded to the earldom in 1931. His second wife divorced Russell in 1935 and the following year he married Patricia Helen Spence.
In 1938, he went to the United States and during the next years taught at many of the country’s leading universities.
In 1940, he got involved in legal proceedings when College of the City of New York questioned his right to teach philosophy because of his views on morality.
When college cancelled his appointment to the college faculty, he accepted a five-year contract as a lecturer. However in January 1943 Albert C. Barnes, director of the foundation cancelled this contract.
Bertrand Russell Awards
Royal Society elected Russell as a fellow of the in 1908, and again reelected a fellow in 1944.
Royal Society awarded him the Sylvester medal in 1934. Soon London Mathematical Society awarded him the ‘de Morgan medal’ in the same year.
Government awarded Russell the ‘Order of Merit’ in 1949 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.
Bertrand Russell Later Life
Russell married his fourth wife, Edith Finch, soon after the divorce, on 15 December 1952. They had known each other since 1925.
Edith had taught English at Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia, sharing a house for 20 years with Russell’s old friend Lucy Donnelly. Edith remained with him until his death.
Russell spent the 1950s and 1960s engaged in political causes primarily related to nuclear disarmament and opposing the Vietnam War.
Russell died of influenza on 2 February 1970 at his home in Penrhyndeudraeth. His family cremated his body in Colwyn Bay on 5 February 1970.