Charles Frederic Moberly Bell
|Charles Frederic Moberly Bell|
2 April 1847|
|Died||5 April 1911
|Occupation||Journalist and editor|
Early life and The Times
After school in England, Moberly Bell returned to his birthplace of Alexandria, Egypt in 1865, at the age of 18. He worked briefly in business and then found free-lance work with The Times. In 1875, he became its official correspondent in Egypt, and achieved fame with his coverage of the Urabi Revolt of 1882. He founded the The Egyptian Gazette in 1880.
In 1890, Bell was invited by the owner of The Times, Arthur Fraser Walter, to help run the financially shaky paper, considered highly respected but stolid and boring. As managing director, Bell revitalized the title, greatly increasing its staff of foreign correspondents. In 1902, Bell created Literature, a forerunner of The Times Literary Supplement, and in 1910, followed that supplement or spin-off with The Times Educational Supplement. In 1908, Bell helped to engineer its sale to Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe. Bell remained with the paper until his death in 1911.
Bell's single most notable accomplishment was his deal with American Horace Everett Hooper to reprint and sell the Encyclopædia Britannica under the sponsorship of The Times. Beginning in 1898, Hooper and his advertising executive Henry Haxton introduced aggressive marketing methods (full-page advertisements and direct marketing) to sell a reprint of the Britannica's 9th edition, which was justly famous for its scholarship but by then out of date. Building on the newspaper's solid reputation, Hooper managed to sell an extraordinary number (over 20,000 sets) of the 9th edition and, in 1902-1903, over 70,000 sets of its supplement, the 10th edition. The profit on the 10th edition was in excess of £600,000, and the royalties paid to the paper made it profitable for the first time in years.
The relations between Bell and Hooper were generally positive, partly owing to the profitability of Hooper's methods and also to Hooper's sincere respect for scholarship. Bell assessed Hooper as "a ranker who loved to be accepted as a gentleman. Treat him as a gentleman and one had no trouble with him; treat him as an essentially dishonest ranker and one got all the trouble there was to get." Supported by Bell, Hooper introduced The Times book club in 1905, and led the drive to make the Eleventh Edition the best possible Britannica, no matter the cost. This expense caused a rift between Hooper and his business partner, Walter Montgomery Jackson; their protracted legal fight (1908–1909) and public corporate wrangling caused The Times to cancel its contract to sponsor the 11th edition in 1908. That edition was finally issued in 1910-1911 under the sponsorship of Cambridge University, after Oxford refused.
Legacy and daughter
Bell wrote three books: Khedives and Pashas (1884), Egyptian Finance (1887), and From Pharaoh to Fellah (1889). His daughter Enid Moberly Bell wrote The Life and Letters of C. F. Moberly Bell (1927) and several other books, including biographies of Flora Shaw, Octavia Hill and Josephine Butler. Enid was second mistress at Lady Margaret School in Parsons Green, and vice-chair (to Lady Lady Frances Balfour, former president of the National Society for Women's Suffrage) of the Lyceum Club for female artists and writers. She set up a home in Chelsea with Anne Lupton, a sort of Boston marriage.
- Kogan, Herman (1958). The Great EB: The Story of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Library of Congress catalog number 58-8379.
- Kitchen, F. Harcourt (1925). Moberley Bell and his Times: An Unofficial Narrative. London: Philip Allan and Co.
- "BELL, Charles Frederic Moberly". Who's Who, 59: p. 127. 1907.
- Dictionary of British Women's Organisations: 1825 - 1960 by Peter Gordon
- This article incorporates text from The Modern World Encyclopædia: Illustrated (1935); out of UK copyright as of 2005.