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Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell

Early Life

Bertrand Arthur William Russell was a mathematician, philosopher, historian and logician. He was born on 18th May 1872 in Trellech, Mountmouthshire. His father was Viscount Amberley and his mother was Katherine who was the daughter of the second Baron Stanley of Alderley. Russell was orphaned when he was only three years of age and was brought up by his grandmother who was a Countess, wife of the Prime minister. His childhood was filled with depression with the early death of his parent and siblings. He often thought of suicide but what kept him away from it was mathematics. In the beginning he was mostly home tutored but later on his life turned a new page after his introduction to the works of Euclid and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Education and Marriage

After winning a scholarship to Trinity College Cambridge in 1890, he decided to start his studies from there. Russell graduated in 1893 in mathematics and philosophy and two years later became a Fellow of Philosophy. During this period he fell in love with Alys Pearsall Smith, whom he married on 13th December 1894 despite his grandmother’s desire. But after a few years the marriage began to deteriorate and finally ended in 1921. His second marriage was with Dora Black who he met in Russia while he was there as part of an official investigation by the British government on the Russian Revolution. He had three children with Dora.

Early Career and Books

His career began with his publication ‘German Social Democracy’ which showed his keen interest in politics. He taught German at the London School of Economics. He also wrote two books ‘The Principals of mathematics’ in 1903 and ‘Principia Mathamatica’ in 1910. Russell was very active and became part of many leagues and societies such as the ‘Men’s League for Women’s Suffrage’ (1907), ‘Fabian Society’ and ‘Union of Democratic Control’ of which he was among the founder members. Russell became part of the ‘No-conscription fellowship’ (NCF) which was a protest against the rule that every man between the age of 18 and 41 could be called for military service with no room for denial. This action cost Russell his job as a lecturer at the Cambridge University. He was also imprisoned due to an article he wrote in the Tribunal which was a NCF journal. During this time he wrote a book called ‘Political Ideals: Roads to Freedom’. Some of his other books include ‘Theory and Practice of Bolshevism’ (1919), ‘On Education’ (1926) and ‘Marriage and Morals’ (1932). Before the start of the Second World War, Russell became a lecturer in the University of Chicago. He was also a professor at the City College of New York during 1940.

Later Life and Death

Russell was very active politically and became a recurring topic in various articles in newspapers and magazines. He opposed the Vietnam War and was very apprehensive about the use of nuclear weapons forming a campaign against their usage in 1958 namely the ‘Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’. He also had strong views on Israel condemning their aggression on the occupied territories. He issued a statement only two days before his death protesting the Israeli antagonism. On 2nd February 1970 he died due to Influenza in Penrhyndeudraeth, Merionethshire, Wales.


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