Bertrand Russell in Brixton prison, 1918

For the first two months of his sentence, life at Brixton prison suited Russell perfectly. Freed from the demands of both political campaigning and romantic attachments,* he was able to live precisely the kind of cloistered, contemplative life he craved. The conditions…were not especially harsh. His cell (an extra large one, for which he paid a rent of two shillings and sixpence a week)* was furnished in style by his sister-in law, Elizabeth and decorated with flowers from Garsington. He had The Times delivered every day, and was, from the great number of books supplied by his friends, able to transform his cell into a reasonably well-equipped study….He did not even have to eat prison food; as a first division prisoner he was allowed to order his meals from outside. Nor was he expected to clean his own cell. The first division was designed for those in the habit of employing servants, and, at sixpence a day, Russell could have his cleaned for him by another prisoner.

* He was in prison because of his anti-war propaganda and lectures. His ‘romantic attachments’ were four adulterous relationships that he was running simultaneously.

** A soldier in 1914 earned about eight shillings week, with a supplement paid to wives directly. Russell spent six shillings a week on his comforts in prison.

Ray Monk Bertrand Russell: the spirit of solitude p525

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