Bertrand Russell (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British mathematician, philosopher, logician, and public intellectual. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950.

Life and Career

He was born on 18 May 1872, in Trellech, Monmouthshire, Wales. Russell got a scholarship in 1890 to study the Mathematical Tripos at Trinity College. As a result, he got to know Alfred North Whitehead and joined Cambridge Apostles on his recommendation.

Many well-known philosophers were members of The Apostles. Russell became interested in philosophy after listening to their discussions. He graduated with First Class in mathematics as the seventh Wrangler in 1893.

Later in 1894, Russell completed the Moral Sciences Tripos and joined the British embassy in Paris as an attaché. He also started writing a thesis, ‘An Essay on the Foundations of Geometry,’ which earned him a fellowship in 1895.

He wrote his first book, The Principles of Mathematics, in 1903 and developed and extended the mathematical logic of Peano and Frege with his friend Alfred Whitehead.

He studied social democracy for a few more months in Berlin. He wrote two series of books during this time, one on science and philosophy and the other on social and political thinking. Later, he studied philosophy in England.

He became a lecturer at Trinity College in 1910. He became active in the No-Conscription fellowship after the First World War broke out and was fined £100 for writing a leaflet criticizing a sentence of two years for a conscientious objector. He lost his lectureship in 1916.

He was sentenced to six months imprisonment in 1918 for writing a pacifist article. In prison, he wrote an Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919). He wrote Analysis of Mind (1921) after giving some lectures in London.

In 1920, Russell spent a short time in Russia studying Bolshevism’s conditions. Later that year, he went to China to teach philosophy at Peking University.

He and his wife started a school for young kids in 1927.

In 1938, he went to the US and taught at many of the country’s best universities.

Later Years

Russell published ‘A History of Western Philosophy’ in 1945. This book immediately became a best seller.

He also became more politically active and focused mostly on nuclear disarmament and the Vietnam War. In 1955, Russell and Albert Einstein issued the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, outlining the dangers of nuclear war.

He was arrested in 1961 for “breach of peace” for taking part in an anti-nuclear demonstration in London. He was imprisoned for seven days because he refused to pledge “good behavior.”

When the Cuban Missile Crisis happened in 1962, Russell was a public figure. From 1966 to 1967, he worked on the Russell Vietnam War Crimes Tribunal.

He died on 2 February 1970, in Penrhyndeudraeth, Merionethshire, Wales.


He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950 for his varied and significant writings about humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought”.

In 1934, he won the Sylvester medal from the Royal Society, and in 1950, the de Morgan medal from the London Mathematical Society.

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