Bertrand's Brother

Bertrand's Brother : The Marriages, Morals and Misdemeanours of Frank, 2nd Earl Russell

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Frank Russell was the grandson of Prime Minister Lord John Russell and elder brother of philosopher and political activist Bertrand Russell. He was, in his own right, a radical political reformer and outspoken self-determined moralist. He was also the black sheep of his illustrious family: a serial adulterer, tried for bigamy in the House of Lords, who, as a young man, had been sent down from Oxford for supposed homosexual practices.

His accuser was his first wife, Mabel Edith, the naive daughter of socialite and 'adventuress' Lady Selina Scott, who forced him repeatedly to publicly defend his good name and honour at a time when male same-sex relationships were reviled and sodomy punishable by up to ten years' penal servitude. Their decade-long cause celebre rivalled and was reported alongside the famous misdemeanours of Oscar Wilde.

In this first biography of Frank Russell, his story is told through extensive use of private papers and contemporary public accounts. The cultural tensions and moral prejudices of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras are exposed, and Frank's innate rebelliousness and deeply embedded sense of injustice are explored, producing a portrait of a man vulnerable yet hubristic, well-meaning yet often offensive; a free-thinker, an aristocrat. A 'common man enlarged'.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 39.88mm | 732g
  • Chalford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 16 Plates, color
  • 1398102830
  • 9781398102835
  • 1,871,020

About Ruth Derham

Ruth Derham is an independent scholar and this, her first book, the fulfilment of a long ambition to write. After a career in business and higher education, she now dedicates herself full-time to writing. Her introduction to Frank Russell came quite by chance through her love of literature, and her fascination with his story has led to the publication of several articles in Russell and the journal of the Santayana Society, Overheard in Seville. She is currently co-editing a complete edition of Lionel Johnson's Winchester Letters, compiling a volume of Frank's major writings and speeches, and researching the history of the Victorian divorce court for a forthcoming work on its intrigues in the decadent era.
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