Non-fiction writer


Sir Isaiah Berlin, OM, was an eminent political philosopher and historian of ideas, regarded as one of the leading liberal thinkers of the twentieth century.

Berlin was born in Riga, then part of the Russian empire. He moved to Britain in 1921, where he was educated at St Paul's School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. At the age of 23, he was the first Jew to be elected to a prize fellowship at All Souls College, and he was instrumental in founding Wolfson College in 1966. He was knighted in 1957, and awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 1979.

Berlin’s published works span the history of ideas in literature, politics and philosophy. The range and scope of his work is aptly illustrated by annual Isaiah Berlin Lectures given at Wolfson College, the British Academy and other institutions by high-profile speakers as diverse as Timothy Garton Ash, Quentin Skinner, Stephen Jay Gould, Simon Schama and Tom Stoppard.

Berlin’s great essay endures because it is a rhetorical masterpiece, an intellectual firework display by a modern master, a brilliant investigation of a great writer and his work and perhaps because almost everyone is divided between living like foxes or hedgehogs.

Robert McCrum
Guardian's 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time on The Hedgehog And The Fox