Letter exchange between Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein

Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein had met from time to time, but they did not see much of each other except in the Autumn 1943, when they were both at Princeton University. Quickly becoming good friends, they would meet for weekend evenings for tea and tobacco at Einstein’s home to discuss “various matters in the philosophy of science.”

Contrary to popular belief, Albert Einstein was never on the faculty at Princeton, he occupied an office in the University’s mathematics building in the early 1940s while waiting for construction of the Institute for Advanced Study. By the early 1940s Bertrand Russell was nearly financially destitute form a combination giving away much of his inherited wealth and being dismissed by numerous universities for being “morally unfit”. However, in 1931 he inherited and kept his families earldom (Russell once joked that his title was primarily used for the purpose of securing New York City hotel rooms). In late 1943 Russell was invited to lecture on “Postulates of Scientific Inference” at Bryn Mawr College, and Princeton University. At Bryn Mawr College’s library Russell did much of the writing for A History of Western Philosophy (1945) which provided him with the needed financial security for the latter part of his life. Russell wrote in is his Autobiography:

“On one occasion I was so poor that I had to take a single ticket to New York and pay the return fare out of my lecture fee. My A History of Western Philosophy was nearly complete, and I wrote to W. W. Norton, who had been my American publisher, to ask if, in view of my difficult financial position, he would make an advance on it.”

In 1943 Russell received an advance of $3000 from the publishers.


The letter exchange between Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein:

October 14, 1931

Dear Bertrand Russell,

For a long time I have had the wish to write you. All I wanted to do was to express my feeling of high admiration of you. The clarity, sureness, and impartiality which you have brought to bear to the logical, philosophical and human problems dealt with in your books are unrivaled not only in our generation. I have always been reluctant to say this to you because you know about this yourself as well as you know about objective facts and do not need to receive any confirmation from outside.

However, a little- known journalist who came to see me today has now given me an opportunity to open my heart to you. I am referring to an international journalistic enterprise (Cooperation) to which the best people belong as contributors and which has the purpose of educating the public in all countries in international understanding. The method to be used is to publish systematically articles by statesmen and journalists on pertinent problems in newspapers of all countries. The gentleman in question, Dr. J. Revesz, will visit England in the near future to promote the project.

I believe it would be important if you could grant him a short interview so he could inform you about the matter. I have hesitated to ask of you this favour, but I am convinced that the project really deserves your attention.

With warm admiration,


P.S. There is no need to reply to this letter.

Bertrand Russell‘s reply FOUR YEARS LATTER:

July 1, 1935

Dear Einstein,

I have long wished to be able to invite you for a visit, but had until recently no house to which to ask you. Now this obstacle is removed, & I very much hope you will come for a week-end. Either next Saturday (12th) or the 19th would suit me; after that I shall be for 6 weeks in Scandinavia & Austria, so if the 12th & 19th are both impossible, it will be necessary to wait till the second half of March.

I can scarcely imagine a greater pleasure than a visit from you would give me, & there are many matters both in the world of physics & in that of human affairs on which I should like to know your opinion more definitely than I do.

Very sincerely, Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell 1914-1944, (1951), Ch: V, Later Years of Telegraph House, p. 311


The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1967–1969) is a three-volume work originally published in the late 1960s by philosopher Bertrand Russell. Russell writes what many readers have found is a frank, humorous and decidedly moving reflection of one’s life. Russell offers his life’s story – introducing the people, events and influences that shaped him. Russell’s autobiography is often considered one of the most compelling and vivid ever written.

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