John Anderson was born in the town of Stonehouse, twenty miles south west of Glasgow, in 1893. He was educated in his fathers’ school before transferring to the Hamilton Academy in 1907. He came first in the All Scotland Bursary Competition in 1911. John entered Glasgow University in the same year and graduated with an M.A. in philosophy in 1917. From 1917 to 1922 he taught philosophy at Glasgow University, when he won a Shaw Fellowship to Edinburgh University. He married Janet (‘Jenny’) Baillie in 1922 and their only child, Alexander (‘Sandy’) was born in 1923. John remained at Edinburgh until 1926, when he was appointed to the Challis Chair in Philosophy at Sydney University. The Anderson family arrived in Sydney in February 1927 and John and Jenny remained there for the rest of the lives, with the exception of a sabbatical year to Europe and America in 1938. John Anderson died in 1962.
The most significant aspect of John Anderson’s personal life after his arrival at Sydney was his relationship with Ruth Walker from 1935 onwards. Ruth was initially his student and then became his colleague in the philosophy department. The relationship lasted at least until 1950, after which time it is not clear what the precise nature of the relationship was. This relationship is significant because of the correspondence that exists from 1935 till John’s death in 1962. This correspondence is commonly known as the ‘Anderson-Walker Correspondence’.