Russell, Matthew (1834–1912), Jesuit priest, editor, and writer of devotional verse, was born 13 July 1834 at Ballybot, near Newry, Co. Down, second son of Arthur Russell of Newry and Killowen, Co. Down, and his wife Margaret, daughter of Matthew Mullen of Belfast and widow of Arthur Hamill of Belfast. His elder brother was Charles Russell (qv), later lord chief justice of England and Baron Russell of Killowen. Educated at St Vincent's College, Castleknock, Dublin, and Violet Hill, Matthew also studied at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, at a time when his uncle, Charles William Russell (qv), was president of the college. He entered the Society of Jesus on 7 March 1857 and was ordained priest in 1864. He taught (1864–73) at Crescent College, Limerick, and in 1873 founded a journal, Catholic Ireland (later renamed the Irish Monthly), which he edited until his death. He took his final vows on 15 August 1874.
The Irish Monthly soon established a reputation for publishing the work of young writers and contained some of the earliest writings of Oscar Wilde (qv) and Hilaire Belloc. Russell was also a tolerably accomplished poet himself and published collections of devotional verse which included Emmanuel: a book of eucharistic verses (1880), Madonna: verses on Our Lady and the saints (1880) and Erin verses, Irish and catholic (1881). These collections were very popular at the time and he built up a large following. In his capacity as editor of the Irish Monthly he also acted as a friend and confidant to many writers, and was a guiding force behind the Irish literary revival of the late nineteenth century. His correspondence collection in the Jesuit archives in Dublin reflects the influence he had on the Irish literary scene of this period and includes letters from numerous writers and political figures that he befriended and supported, such as Mary Elizabeth Blundell (qv), Aubrey de Vere (qv), Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (qv), Alfred Perceval Graves (qv), Denis Florence MacCarthy (qv), Lady Gilbert (née Rosa Mulholland) (qv), Judge John O'Hagan (qv), James Stephens (qv), T. D. Sullivan (qv), Alfred Webb (qv), and W. B. Yeats (qv). He also corresponded with Hilaire Belloc about literary and domestic matters.
In 1874 he was attached to the staff of the Catholic University in St Stephen's Green and later moved to St Francis Xavier's church, Gardiner St., where he undertook pastoral duties (1877–86). In 1886 he was appointed as spiritual father at the Jesuit-run UCD, returning to work with the Gardiner St. community in 1903. He died on 12 September 1912 and, following requiem mass at St Francis Xavier's, was buried in the Jesuit plot in Glasnevin cemetery. His substantial collection of papers in the Irish Jesuit archives also includes manuscript articles, poems, and devotional writings.