Corrections to the second edition of Michael Ignatieff, Isaiah Berlin: A Life

As the first biographer who used the Isaiah Berlin Papers, before they were deposited in the Bodleian Library in Oxford (where they were then catalogued and foliated), and before the four-volume edition of Berlin’s letters (2004–15) had appeared, Michael Ignatieff did not have ready access to all the sources that he would have been able to use had he been starting afresh once this process had been completed; he was also under pressure to complete his task within a short time after Berlin’s death on 5 November 1997. The first edition of his biography (1998) was therefore considerably revised for its second, updated edition, published twenty-five years later (2023).

In order that students of Berlin should not be misled or travel up blind alleys in the years intervening between the two editions, a web page was established to list selected corrections of, or additions to, the first edition. Much of this list is preserved here, for the benefit of those still using the first edition.

The second edition incorporated all the information provided on that web page, adding references to the Isaiah Berlin Papers and the published letters, as well as to other publications that appeared after the first edition went to press. Errors in the second edition that have come to the webmaster’s attention appear in the ongoing list below. If anyone can provide a source for any of the untraced quotations (some of which may come from untranscribed conversations), the webmaster will be grateful to be notified.


Page Line/note/entry For Read
78 14 up Mr. M.
83 3 up Moore Crosthwaite Con O’Neill
96 14 up World Order World-Order
103 11–12 In the summer of 1937 Hampshire and Berlin travelled through Ireland together. In the summer of 1936 Hampshire and Berlin travelled through Ireland with Con O’Neill.
110 3 MI5 MI6
112 3 up Russian Soviet
181 8 up than she than her
227 2 Felix Frankfurter, a friend in the US,
238 18 eastern western
240 2 up six five
241 14 theatre theater
260 10 Gunzburg de Gunzburg
266 5 up ‘Il ‘Mais il
294 13 The next morning, A week later,
349 10–9 up seemed doomed to them … seem doomed to them […]
353 2 moi, moi
368 10 Ralph Ralf
373 after 2 [insert new entry] A+    Online supplement to A,
before 6 [insert new entries] PIRA    Political Ideas in the Romantic Age: Their Rise and Influence on Modern Thought, ed. Henry Hardy, introduction by Joshua L. Cherniss (London/Princeton, 2006), 2nd. ed., foreword by William A. Galston (Princeton, 2014)

POI      The Power of Ideas, ed. Henry Hardy (London/Princeton, 2000), 2nd. ed., foreword by Avishai Margalit (Princeton, 2013)
374 before 9 [insert new entry] IB/IV    IB interviewed by
before 6 [insert new entry] MI/IV    Michael Ignatieff interview with
375 ch. 1, note 1 See ch. 8. See 127–9.
ch. 2, note 1, 4 See also See also his
383 note 25 Untraced. Untraced, but ascribed to the fictional Elya Mendel (based on IB) in Justin Cartwright, The Song Before It is Sung (London, 2007), 216, 127; and cf. ibid. 227.
note 44 Untraced. Untraced, but at Tape B4: 7 Hampshire says, ‘I am and was almost comically British, I mean to a ludicrous degree’; cf. IB to Bowra, 18 November 1965, ‘No more English Englishman has ever been created’ (B 370).
385 note 12 337 F 337
387 note 28 Tape 18: 23; Tape 18: 9–11;
389 note 1 76 80
393 note 56 77/122. 77 (Russian version), 122 (German version).
394 note 7 Tape 12 Tape 20
398 note 21, 1 154/182 MSB 154/182
399 note 36, 2 39 29
402 note 25 Tape B1: 27. Aline Berlin.
409 1 3.3.60 4.3.60
2 Le Rhinocéros. Le Rhinocéros, 144c. [roman comma]
410 note 6 MI/IV IB/IV
Hoffenberg Hoffenberg (President of Wolfson, 1985–93)
415 note 43 Shielka Shiela
428 Lewis, C. I. World Order World-Order
435 Gunzburg Horace Horace de

Last updated 24 June 2024

Thanks to John Shedden for his eagle eye, and to numerous other correspondents who sent in corrections