Peter Demianovich Ouspensky was born in Moscow in 1878. At the University of Moscow he studied natural science and psychology, and his first book, ‘The Fourth Dimension’, earned him immediate respect as a mathematical theorist. Ouspensky decided, however, to become a journalist and writer, contributing to the principal Russian newspapers, writing books and traveling widely between 1908 and 1915. The Revolution drove him from his home in St. Petersburg to the safety of Constantinople, where friends discovered him living in poverty. Lady Rothermere came across an edition of Ouspensky’s second book, ‘Tertium Organum’, and through her intervention he was able to come to England.
Ouspensky’s life had been changed in 1915 by his meeting with the Caucasian teacher G.I. Gurdjieff and he became a disciple of his. Ouspensky set up a self-supporting community at Lyne Place, near London, which flourished for many years. Among the men and women who studied with him were J.D .Beresford, Algernon Blackwood, A.R.Orage, Christopher Isherwood, and Aldous Huxley. In 1940 he settled in America and formed a colony patterned after his earlier community. He died at Lyne Place in 1947.
Ouspensky’s early reputation rested mainly on ‘Tertium Organum’, the theme of which is the need to go beyond logical thinking to understand the nature of the real world. However, after the publication of ‘In Search of the Miraculous, Fragments of an Unknown Teaching’ in 1949, Ouspensky became, for many seekers, the man who was able to make Gurdjieff’s teaching accessible.