"No Poverty, Much Comfort, Little Wealth": Bertrand Russell's 1935 Scandinavian Tour


  • Michael D. Stevenson Lakehead Unviersity




Bertrand Russell’s Scandinavian lecture tour in October 1935 has been largely undocumented because of the longstanding embargo on the tour correspondence Russell exchanged with Marjorie (“Peter”) Spence, his lover and future third wife. These archival restrictions ended in 2009, and this paper presents annotated transcriptions of twenty letters sent by Russell to Peter during his trip to Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. The tour allowed Russell to test early versions of two important papers in his return to philosophy in the mid-193s, and his meetings with Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in Copenhagen significantly enhanced his understanding of quantum mechanics. Additionally, these letters demonstrate the impact of the tour on Russell’s political thought and his evolving views on fascism and pacifism, and they provide the first intimate picture of Russell’s complex relationship with Peter.