John Bell (publisher)

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For other people of the same name, see John Bell (disambiguation).
John Bell
John-bell-publisher.jpg
Born 1745
Died 1831
Fulham
Occupation Publisher
Language English
Nationality English

John Bell (1745–1831) was an English publisher.

Life[edit]

His 109-volume, literature-for-the-masses Poets of Great Britain Complete from Chaucer to Churchill, which rivalled Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets (1781), was published from 1777 to 1783. Each volume cost just six shillings, at a time when similar volumes usually cost multiple times that.[1]

The drawings and illustrations with which Bell adorned his publications influenced later publishers, as did his abandonment of the long s.[1]

Most notable, perhaps, was Bell's joint-stock organisation of his publishing company, which defied "the trade" – forty dominant publishing companies – to establish a monopoly on the best publications. In addition to the immense Poets of Great Britain, Bell also published similar volumes on Shakespeare and The British Theatre, as well as the Sunday newspaper Bell's Weekly Messenger, women's magazine La Belle Assemblée, and other periodicals.[1] He also ran a circulating library.[2][3]

He died in Fulham in 1831.[1]

He was the uncle of Edward Bell.[1]

He was a "mischievous spirit, the very Puck (Shakespeare) of booksellers." [1]

Works[edit]

British Theatre[edit]

Bell's British Theatre features 140 plays in 21 volumes, though each set has a different combination of plays, making each set unique.[4] For example, one set is arranged thus:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Harrison 1885.
  2. ^ John Trusler (1790), London Adviser and Guide (2nd ed.), Printed for the author at the Literary-Press, OCLC 15076772 
  3. ^ Paul Kaufman (1967). "The Community Library: A Chapter in English Social History". Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 57. JSTOR 1006043. 
  4. ^ "Description", British theatre (1791), record at the Internet Archive. See for example two title pages for "Volume 7", one featuring "Maid of the Mill", the other featuring "Love Makes a Man"
  5. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 2, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mrs Mattocks, Mrs Powell, Mrs Angelo, Mr Macklin
  6. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 3, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Miss Brunton, Mr Holman, Mr Kemble, Mrs Siddons, Mrs Merry
  7. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 4, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Lee-Lewis, Mr Bernard, Mrs Siddons, Mr Fawcet
  8. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 5, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mrs Siddons (as Cleone), Mrs Siddons (as Isabella), Mrs Rock, Mrs Esten
  9. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 6, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Farren, Mr Wroughton, Mrs Siddons, Mrs Farren, Mr Bensley
  10. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 7, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Quick, Mrs Ann Brunton Merry, Mrs Hunter, Mrs Heard
  11. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 8, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Blanchard, Mr Lewis, Mr Farren, Mrs Brooks
  12. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 9, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Holman, Mr Martyr, Mr Quick, Mr Kemble
  13. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 10, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Barrymore and Warthen, Mr Hull, Mrs Lee Lewis, Alexander Pope
  14. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 11, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mrs Crouch, Mr Palmer, Mr Yates, Mrs Mountain
  15. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 12, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mrs Wells, Mrs Mattocks, Mrs Webb, Mr Harley
  16. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 13, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mrs Billington, Mrs Jordan, Mr Palmer, Mrs Martyr
  17. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 14, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations:Mr Moody, Mr Holman , Mr Palmer, Mr King
  18. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 15, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mrs Esten, Mrs Inchbald, Mr Kemble, Mr Palmer
  19. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 16, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Munden, Mrs Ward, Mrs Goodall, Mrs Siddons
  20. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 17, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Harley, Mrs Abington, Miss Barclay, Mrs Whitelock
  21. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 18, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Dimond, Mr Wilson, Miss Chapman, Mr Middleton
  22. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 19, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Pope, Mrs Kemble, Mr Johnstone, Mr Kemble
  23. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 20, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Baddeley, Mr Rock, Mr Parsons, Mr Bensley
  24. ^ Bell, John, 1745–1831, British theatre (1791), Volume 21, Publisher: J. Bell Year, 1791. Illustrations: Mr Parsons, Mr Fawcet, Mr Dimond, Mrs Jordan
Attribution

 Harrison, Robert (1885). "Bell, John (1745-1831)". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 4. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Portraits of Actors, 1720–1920 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Ian Maxted (2007), John Bell, The London Book Trades 1775–1800: a preliminary checklist of members, Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History