Bertrand's Brother (2021)  

Biography of John Francis Stanley, 2nd Earl Russell

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

       Russell was three times married; the last occasion being a disastrous union with the author Elizabeth von Arnim who famously embroidered him in a none-too-flattering portrait into her darkest novel Vera.

     In this first biography of Frank Russell, his colourful 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 explored, producing a portrait of a man vulnerable yet hubristic, well-meaning yet often offensive; a free-thinker, an aristocrat. A 'common man enlarged'.

Bertrand Russell's Brother Frank Russell


Martin Coleman. 'The Most Extraordinary of Santayana's Friends: Review of Derham's "Bertrand's Brother".' Overheard in Seville, vol.39 (2021), pp. 173-183.

Nick Freeman. 'Even the Dogs are Shocked!' Journal of Victorian Culture, 22 Oct 2021,

William Bruneau. 'Frank Russell: A Whole From The Parts.' Russell: the Journal of Bertrand Russell Studies, vol. 41 no.1 (summer 2021), pp. 86-94.

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Works in Progress

To Be Frank (due 2022)

The Politics and Polemics of a Radical Russell.

Frank Russell.jpg

To complement Bertrand's Brother, this first selection of Frank's writing and speeches - coming soon from Spokesman Books - will demonstrate his famed eloquence as a speaker and his rational approach to a diverse range of social issues, such as women's suffrage, religious dogma, the domestic uses of electricity, divorce reform, automobilism, prison reform, birth control, and more. Public speeches and published articles will be interspersed with private correspondence, journal entries and editorial comment to make this an informative, readable volume.

Decadent Divorce (due 2023)

A subjective history of the late-Victorian divorce court.

Peep through the keyhole of the late-Victorian divorce court to witness the intrigues of this microcosm of society, where the great aristocratic causes célèbres revealed stories of excess, decadence and disregard, arrogance and entitlement; where members of the professional classes tasted for the first time the downside of celebrity as their private lives were exposed in newspapers nationwide; and where those of the working class, who could scrape together enough money, at last found relief from abusive, deserting or unfaithful spouses. Drawing on contemporary newspaper reports, private papers, memoirs and court files, the picture that emerges from these collective stories is one of high drama, humour, pathos and tragedy, brimming with moral comment and throwing a light on the moral and social preoccupations of the late-Victorian age.

The Complete Winchester Letters of Lionel Johnson (due 2023)

with Sarah Green

A restored volume of Some Winchester Letters of Lionel Johnson, edited and bowdlerised by Frank Russell and published by George Allen & Unwin in 1919.  This collection offers insight into Johnson's spiritual and religious development and, with previously excised passages fully restored from the original letters, demonstrates how the Brotherhood of these young man challenged orthodox sensibilities, leading ultimately to Frank Russell's sending down from Oxford for 'immoral practices'.