Analytic Philosophy

G.E. Moore

Who or what were the Cambridge Apostles?

This was the undergraduate club at Cambridge University to which G.E. Moore, and some of the male writers who held him in high esteem, belonged. The Cambridge Apostles, or “Cambridge Conversazione Society,” was founded in 1820 by George Tomlinson, who was later bishop of Gibraltar. There were originally 12 members; hence the name. They met on Saturday nights for discussion after one member presented a paper and they ate “whales,” which were sardines on toast. The Apostles have always been a quasi-secret society with an annual dinner and a meeting in London every so often. Women could not be considered for membership until 1970.

When the “Cambridge spy ring” was disclosed in 1951, four of its members were former Apostles, and two, who were employed in high government offices, had given the KGB sensitive information. (The Cambridge spy ring consisted of five British young men who attended Cambridge University and were recruited to spy for the Soviet Union during the 1930s. They infiltrated the highest levels of British government and betrayed top secrets to the Soviet Union.)


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