Victor Serebriakoff was born in Camberwell, London, the eldest son of Vladimir and Ethel Serebriakoff (née Graham). Eventually, the family had five daughters and two sons. Vladimir's father was Esper Serebriakoff, who married Katherine Seitelman. Esper joined the Russian navy in 1870, but left in 1885 after rising to the rank of lieutenant, having become involved in revolutionary politics, leaving Russia in 1888. Esper's father, Alexander, was a lieutenant colonel in the Russian army.
Victor was involved with Mensa and the Mensa Foundation for Gifted Children.
After leaving the army in 1947 he worked in the timber industry, becoming known for introducing automatic grading of timber for strength, eventually selling machines world wide. In the 1970s he led a British delegation to a timber metrification conference in the Soviet Union.
Victor wrote prolifically on the timber trade, Mensa and its history, and educating gifted children. He also wrote puzzle books. Many of his works were translated. He took greatest pride in his book Brain in which he set out a theory of how the brain operates.
His first wife, Mary, encouraged Serebriakoff to join Mensa in 1949, when membership was only a few hundred. Initially, he wasn't heavily involved. Victor suffered a bereavement when Mary was found to have tongue cancer. She died in July 1952 after just 3 years of marriage and two children.
Win Rouse, a Lady Almoner or hospital social worker, (and ex-Bletchley Park staff) had helped Victor and Mary during the illness. By coincidence, she was a member of Mensa, having met Victor at meetings. After Mary died, they eventually became a couple and married in October 1953.
Jo Wilson, the then chairman, said "Let's face it, we are no more than a group of friends meeting for dinners" and suggested closing Mensa down. Victor thought that would be a shame, and Jo said, "Well it's up to you then."
Victor became active in promoting Mensa. He and Win evaluated I.Q. tests at their home in Blackheath, London, and organised the Mensa annual general meeting from there. He was also a principal of the lively Blackheath Poetry Society in the 1950s, and a prolific author of light verse.
Eventually Mensa could support paid staff, leading to National Mensa organisations starting in many countries. Victor often publicised Mensa in the worldwide media through the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. He was often quoted, and one of his more memorable utterings was "being intelligent is no guarantee against being stupid."
Eventually Victor was elected International President of Mensa, an office that he held at his death. In the early 1990s Victor fought prostate cancer, with various treatments and surgery, but it eventually claimed him. Win died in 1995. He was working on his writing right up to December 1999, managing to finish a revision of his book Brain.
- British Sawmill Practice.
- How Intelligent Are You - The Universal IQ.
- Self-Scoring IQ Tests.
- Self-scoring personality tests.
- A Mensa Puzzle Book: 200 Puzzles, Posers and Problems.
- A Second Mensa Puzzle Book.
- The Mammoth Book of Puzzles.
- The Mammoth Book of Astounding Puzzles.
- The Mammoth Book of Mindbending Puzzles.
- Mensa: the society for the highly intelligent. London: Constable. 1985. ISBN 0-8128-3091-1.
- The Future of Intelligence: Biological and Artificial. New York: Pantheon. 1987. ISBN 0-940813-02-5.
- Testen Sie Ihren IQ.
- A guide to intelligence and personality testing : including actual tests and answers. NJ: Parthenon Pub. Group. 1988.