"City of dreadful night; cut throats, don't mention political news" Read the full letter

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Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872 - 1970) was a British philosopher, journalist, social commentator and political activist. As well as a founder of analytic philosophy and a highly influential intellectual, Russell also gained prominence through his involvement in several high-profile radical political causes, including anti-imperialism and pacifism. It was in relation to their shared anti-war concerns and pacifist activities that Schreiner and Russell appear to have met; her single extant letter to him was written between October 1914 and July 1915, and it invites him to call on her, although it is not known whether this meeting in fact took place. It is also likely that Russell organised a January 1916 petition letter published in The Times, of which Schreiner was a signatory, in support of John Simon’s opposition to the introduction of wartime compulsory conscription. During the First World War Russell was deeply involved in both the Union of Democratic Control and the No-Conscription Fellowship, organisations which Schreiner too supported. As a result of his pacifist activities in 1916 he was convicted under the Defence of the Realm Act, fined £100 and dismissed from his lectureship at Trinity College, Cambridge.

While Schreiner’s letter to Russell is formal and business-like, it can be assumed that they were already known to one another as Schreiner was a friend and correspondent of Russell’s first wife, Alys Pearsall Smith. Russell and Pearsall Smith married in 1894 but their marriage was unhappy and they divorced in 1921 following a long period of separation.

For further information see:
Bertrand Russell (1967-9) Autobiography (3 volumes) London: Allen & Unwin 
Ray Monk (1996) Bertrand Russell: The Spirit of Solitude London: Jonathan Cape
Ray Monk (2000) Bertrand Russell: The Ghost of Madness London: Jonathan Cape
Ray Monk (2004) ‘Russell, Bertrand Arthur William, third Earl Russell (1872-1970)’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Oxford University Press http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/35875
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recipient icon Recipient Of
collection icon McMaster Russell: Schreiner’s single letter to Bertram Russell is part of the extremely extensive Russell collection at McMaster Universi... Show/Hide Collection Letters
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mentioned icon Mentioned In
collection icon Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin: The HRC, Austin, is one of the world leading locations for archival papers pertaining to literary life and manuscripts across... Show/Hide Collection Letters
collection icon McMaster Russell: Schreiner’s single letter to Bertram Russell is part of the extremely extensive Russell collection at McMaster Universi... Show/Hide Collection Letters
collection icon National English Literary Museum, Grahamstown: The National English Literary Museum is the leading location for collections pertaining to the imaginative and creative writi... Show/Hide Collection Letters
collection icon National Library of South Africa, Cape Town: Special Collections at the NLSA provide one of the leading locations for archival papers across many periods, organisations a... Show/Hide Collection Letters
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