Ernest Belfort Bax was born on 23 July 1854, in Leamington, son of wealthy garment manufacturers and traditionalist nonconformist parents. In his Reminiscences and Reflexions of a Mid and Late Victorian (1918), he describes the narrow Evangelicanism and Sabbatarianism in which he was brought up which he describes as having left "an enduringly unpleasant reminiscence behind it".
He was privately educated by tutors between the years 1864-1875, and influenced by George Lewes, William Lecky, Alexander Bain, Herbert Spencer and John Stuart Mill, which contributed to his dedication to rationalism. At the age of sixteen his interest in public affairs was awakened by the Franco-German War, and by its sequel, the Commune. His political ideas during this period amounted to a commonplace radicalism combined with aspirations to economic equality.
In his youth Bax had an interest in music and could play the piano, and at the age of 21 (1875) he went to Germany to study music. He visited there again in 1880 as Berlin correspondent of The Standard. It was then that he met with Eduard von Hartmann and came into contact with German philosophy in general. After studying for a period, his interest in Mill, Spencer and Bain yielded to the German greats of Kant and Hegel, and his philosophical interests remained with him for life..............