Bertrand Russell’s remarkable day, 18 May 1913

On 18 May 1913 Bertrand Russell had lunch in his Cambridge College with Ludwig Wittgenstein, G E Moore, Charles Percy Sanger, and John McTaggart. Three of the party were philosophers of the first rank and one of the second rank.

At teatime Rabindranath Tagore, a Nobel prize-winning poet, arrived with a “Hindoo protégé.” Russell reports that he likes Tagore much better than he once did because “his saintliness was less aggressive.”

During tea Melian Florence Stawell arrived, and Russell had “two hours terrific discussion with her.” Unfortunately, he reported, “she hasn’t much aptitude for philosophy.”

During the day Russell wrote 10 pages of his book Theory of Knowledge, and in the evening he wrote a letter to his lover Ottoline Morrell, as he did every day.

Nine days later Wittgenstein came to see Russell and showed him that his book contained a fatal error. Russell abandoned the book despite having written 350 pages.


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