George Price taught himself genetics in order to disprove Hamilton's stark conclusion that altruism was just genetic selfishness, but instead proved it indisputably correct - indeed, even improved the algebra and made some important contributions to the theory himself. The two began to collaborate, but Price, who was showing increasing signs of mental instability, turned to religion for solace, gave away all his possessions to the poor and committed suicide in a bare and cold London squat, some letters from Hamilton among his few possessions. (p.19)
A few more details from Wikipedia:
On 6 June 1970, Price had a religious experience and became an ardent scholar of the New Testament. He believed that there had been too many coincidences in his life. In particular, he wrote a lengthy essay entitled The Twelve Days of Easter, arguing that the calendar of events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth's death in Easter Week was actually slightly longer. Later he turned away from Biblical scholarship and instead dedicated his life to social work, helping the needy of North London.
He then dedicated his life to helping the homeless, and invited many homeless people to live in his house. Sometimes, when the people in his house became a distraction, he slept in his office at the Galton Laboratory. At one point a violent man whose partner he had helped escape caused trouble at the office, however, he was able to smooth this over with the lab.
He was eventually thrown out of his rented house due to a construction project in the area, which made him unhappy because he could no longer provide housing for the homeless. He moved to various squats in the North London area, where he committed suicide with a pair of nail scissors by slashing his throat at Christmas 1974. Friends said he committed suicide because of despondency over his inability to continue helping the homeless.
A story both sorry and strange. Funny that a man driven to prove altruism was more than Hamilton had proposed, turned to suicide when he couldn't help others (though it is no surprise that some favour religion and death over reality).Go Top