Berlin was born 1909 to Russian-speaking Jewish parents in Riga, Latvia, where his father ran a timber business. In 1915 the family moved to Andreopol in Russia, and then to Petrograd where he witnessed the February and October revolutions. The family returned to Latvia in 1920, before moving to England in 1921.
Berlin was educated at St Paul's School and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford where he gained Firsts in Greats and Politics, Philosophy and Economics in 1931 and 1932.
Richard Crossman gave Berlin his first job as a philosophy lecturer at Corpus Christi College. He was elected to a fellowship at All Souls College, which ran until 1938, when he became a fellow of New College.
Second World War
In 1950, Berlin returned to All Souls, where in 1957 he was elected to the Chichele chair of Social and Political Theory.
- Henry Hardy, Obituary: Sir Isaiah Berlin, Independent, 7 November 1997.