Charles Frederic Moberly Bell

Charles Frederic Moberly Bell
Charles Frederic Moberly Bell
Born 2 April 1847(1847-04-02)
Alexandria, Egypt
Died 5 April 1911(1911-04-05) (aged 64)
London, England
Occupation Journalist and editor

Charles Frederic Moberly Bell (2 April 1847 in Alexandria – 5 April 1911 in London) was a prominent British journalist and newspaper editor during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Although schooled in England, Moberly Bell returned to his native city of Alexandria, Egypt as a young man (in 1865, at the age of 18). After working briefly in business, he found free-lance work with The Times newspaper of London. In 1875, he became its official Egypt correspondent, becoming famous for his coverage of the Urabi Revolt of 1882. He also began the Egyptian Gazette newspaper in 1880.

In 1890, Bell was invited by owner A. F. Walter to help run the financially shaky The Times, then a highly respected newspaper but considered stolid and boring.[1] As managing director, Bell revitalized the newspaper, greatly increasing its staff of foreign correspondents. In 1908, Bell helped to engineer its sale to Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe. In 1902, Bell created Literature, a forerunner of The Times Literary Supplement, as well as The Times Educational Supplement in 1910.[2] 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.[1] Beginning in 1898, Hooper and his advertising executive Henry Haxton introduced aggressive marketing methods (full-page advertisements in The Times 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marketing) to sell a reprint of the Britannica's 9th edition, which was justly famous for its scholarship but by then out of date.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 solid reputation of The Times, 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 pounds, and the royalties paid to The Times made that paper profitable for the first time in years.[1]

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."[2] Supported by Bell, Hooper introduced the Times Book club in 1905, and led the drive to make the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition the best possible Britannica, no matter the expense. 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. The 11th was then issued in 1910-1911 under the sponsorship of Cambridge University, after Oxford University refused.[1]

Bell wrote three books: Khedives and Pashas (1884), Egyptian Finance (1887), and From Pharaoh to Fellah (1889).[3] His daughter Enid Moberly Bell wrote The Life and Letters of C. F. Moberly Bell (1927) and several other books, including biographies of Octavia Hill and Josephine Butler.


  1. ^ a b c d 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. 
  2. ^ a b Kitchen, F. Harcourt (1925). Moberley Bell and his Times: An Unofficial Narrative. London: Philip Allan and Co. 
  3. ^ "BELL, Charles Frederic Moberly". Who's Who, vol. 59: p. 127. 1907. 

Other sources

  • This article incorporates text from The Modern World Encyclopædia: Illustrated (1935); out of UK copyright as of 2005.

External links

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