Bertrand Russell the Passionate Skeptic: A Biography

By Alan Wood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
The Work of Genius

IN 1896 the Russells went to America for some months. He visited Walt Whitman's house and gave lectures at the John Hopkins University and Bryn Mawr, based on his Dissertation on The Foundations of Geometry. After his travels in Germany and America he settled down in England, living mostly in a small cottage in Sussex, and continued the laborious and austere work on mathematical philosophy which was the foundation of his fame.

As mentioned earlier, he and his wife had close friends among the Fabians, especially Sidney and Beatrice Webb. Beatrice, with her intense love of order and method, recorded some characteristic comments on both Russell and Alys, writing in her diary on September 25, 1895:

'The Bertrand Russells spent some days with us. Russell is a very young man with considerable intellectual promise--subtle and contentious, but anarchic in his dislike of working in traces. He has married a pretty bright American Quakeress some years older than himself with anarchic views of life, also hating routine.'

The following year, after visiting their cottage in Sussex, Beatrice Webb wrote: 'The Bertrand Russells live idyllic lives--devotedly attached to each other--living with somewhat disorderly and extravagant simplicity--the simplest result extravagantly achieved--as might be expected with an anarchic American with means of her own.* Russell working some six or seven hours at his metaphysical book--Alys rushing up to town

____________________
*
Russell said afterwards that he was puzzled by the reference to extravagance: 'Our income was small, and we lived within it.'

-42-

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