6 March 2008

Lionel Britton's Letter to Bertrand Russell, 28 November 1955

As I mentioned in a post below, Lionel Britton and Bertrand Russell wrote a number of letters to each other. One dates from about eighteen months after Britton was injured in a car accident in which he sustained multiple fractures and was lucky to escape with his life. He briefly explains his difficulties resulting from the accident, and says that he is now recovering. He also says that he received an undisclosed sum of money in compensation, and hopes that he can 'use [it] to publish my work, & be independent of publishers' readers' (1). Unfortunately, nothing came of this, and for some unknown reason Britton later lost his money.

The letter is also interesting in that it reveals that Britton had recently attended a 'One World meeting' in which he was pleased to see Russell 'standing up to the rowdies'. The last volume of The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell has cast light on this comment (2).

Andrew Bone, the editor of the volume, reveals in an Appendix that the occasion took place in at Central Hall, Westminster, on 9 November 1955. The speakers – Russell, Professor Alexander Haddow, Lord Beveridge, and Henry Usborne – had contributed to Gilbert McAllister's The Bomb: Challenge and Answer, and the meeting was sponspored by the British branch of the World Association of Parliamentarians for World Government (3). There was a great deal of heckling because some feared that world government would mean domination by communists, and because of interruptions Russell, according to The Times, was unable to speak for ten minutes.

(1) Lionel Britton, letter to Bertrand Russell, 28 November 1955, in the possession of Harry Berberian.

(2) The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, ed. by Kenneth Blackwell [et al.], 29 vols (London: Allen & Unwin, and Routledge, 1983– ), XXVIV: Détente or Destruction 1955–1957 (ed. by Andrew Bone, 2005), 409–10.

(3) The Bomb: Challenge and Answer, ed. by Gilbert McAllister (London: Batsford, 1955).

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