Berlin's direct experience of the history and culture of Russia shaped his thinking on liberalism and the power of ideas, whilst the Soviet Union provided a ready contrast of political and creative repression that would be of great significance to his life and works as a whole. This section explores the formative experiences Berlin had in his Russian childhood and during the seminal year of 1917, his writings on the Russian intelligentsia of the 19th Century, and his engagement with the Soviet world. In due course, it will delve into further detail about Berlin's engagement with particular Russian thinkers and writers.
Berlin was born in the Russian Empire in 1909. In 1917, the year of the Russian February and October revolutions, he and his family were in Petrograd, as St Petersburg was known between 1914 and 1924.
Berlin was fascinated with the liberals and radicals of the 19th century Russian intelligentsia.
Berlin's family left Russia soon after 1917, but the Soviet Union remained a powerful influence in Berlin's life.