57173

BRACERS Record Detail

To access the original letter, email the Ready Division.

Collection code 
RA3
Class no. 
Recent acquisition no. 
903I
Document no. 
.
Box no. 
Source if not BR 

National Archives, UK

Recipient(s) 
Brixton Prison Governor
Haynes, Carleton
Sender(s) 
BR
Date 
1918/05/02
Enclosures/References 
Form of letter 
ALS
Pieces 
1
BR's address code (if sender) 
LBP
Notes, topics or text 

Brixton Letters (1918, 1961)

Transcription 

Letter 1
BR TO THE GOVERNOR OF BRIXTON PRISON / CARLETON HAYNES,  2 MAY 1918
BRACERS 57173. ALS. National Archives, UK. Papers 14: App. XIII.1
Previous Brixton letter, none; next letter, BRACERS 46911
Edited by K. Blackwell, A. Bone, N. Griffin and S. Turcon


<Brixton Prison>1
2. May. 1918.2

The Governor of Brixton Prison

Sir

I hereby apply for permission, as a prisoner in the First Division, to wear my own clothes, occupy a private room,3 have books and newspapers sent in, and be allowed to obtain enough of my own money to pay for food4 and like expenses, and be allowed some of my own furniture.a

Bertrand Russell.

 

Notes

  • 1.

    [document] The letter was edited from a digital scan of BR’s signed, handwritten original in the National Archives, UK. Prisoners’ correspondence was subject to the governor’s approval, or that of his deputy. This letter has the signature of C. Haynes (the governor) to an evidently dictated, handwritten letter of the same date, below BR’s letter on the same blue sheet, recommending that his request be granted since it “complies with the Secretary of State’s Rules.” The letter was published as App. XIII.1 in Papers 14.

  • 2.

    [date] This was the second day of BR’s imprisonment. On 1 May 1918 he lost the appeal of his 9 February conviction under the Defence of the Realm Act for making statements in The Tribunal “intended or likely … to prejudice His Majesty’s relations with foreign powers” (see also “Mr. Bertrand Russell’s Appeal; Mitigation of Sentence”, The Times, 2 May 1918, p. 2). All that BR publicly recalled of his first day in Brixton was that the warder at the gate asked his religion and then how to spell “agnostic” (Auto. 2: 34).

  • 3.

    private room How soon BR stopped sharing a cell (the request for privacy strongly suggests he shared one the first day or days) can’t be determined. As for the cost of this privilege, Alan Wood, who was frequently in touch with BR during the writing of Bertrand Russell, the Passionate Sceptic (London: Allen & Unwin, 1957), stated that “Russell had a cell larger than usual, for which he had to pay a rent of 2s 6d a week” (p. 113).

  • 4.

    food When BR recalled his first-division privileges many years later, food stood out: “You had no prison labour to do, you were allowed your own clothes, you were allowed your own food. And mind you, at a time when everybody else was rationed, I alone was not. Why? Because they hadn’t thought of extending rationing to this very tiny group of first-division prisoners” (Speaking Personally, John Chandos, interviewer [London: Pye-Plus Nonesuch Records, 1961], side 1, 31: 43).

Textual Notes

  • a.

    and be allowed … furniture The clause was squeezed in as an afterthought (see the letter image).

Filed 
Russell letter no. 
Permission 
Everyone
Thread 
Reel no. 
Frame no. 
Record no. 
57173
Image 
BR to The Governor, Brixton Prison (Carleton Haynes), 1918/05/02
Photos of Second Division Cell for a Suffragette vs. First Division Cell for a (Male) Political Offender, "Illustrated London News", 1909 (courtesy of National Archives, UK)
Transcription Public Access 
Yes
Record created 2013/05/09
Record last modified 2022/04/16
Created/last modified by blackwk