Professor Ralph Russell, (born 21 May 1918, died 14 September 2008), was a British scholar of Urdu literature and a Communist. He was educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge, UK. He taught Urdu and Urdu literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and also in universities in India and Pakistan He wrote articles and essays in Urdu and Engligh and attended literary seminars and workshops on the subject of his specialization.
Russell was born in Hammerton in North Yorkshire, England, and grew up in Loughton, Essex. For much of his life he was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz in recognition of his services to Urdu language and literature, by the Government of Pakistan.
During the Second World War, he was posted to India, where he learnt Urdu because he wanted to be able to talk to the sepoys in his unit and not just issue orders.
He is best known for his work on works by the revered poet Mirza Ghalib.
Loughton Town Council installed a blue plaque to Russell on his boyhood home at 6 Queen’s Road in that town, which was inaugurated with a reception given by the present owners for family, friends and colleagues, on 15 July 2013.The life of an eminent scholar who dedicated his life to literature written in Urdu has been commemorated by a blue plaque. Roseley in Queens Road, was Mr Russell’s home from 1925 until 1940, when he attended Staples Road School and later Chigwell School.