Charles Frederic Moberly Bell

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.

Charles Frederic Moberly Bell
Born(1847-04-02)2 April 1847
Died5 April 1911(1911-04-05) (aged 64)
London, England
OccupationJournalist, editor and author
EmployerThe Times
Notable credit(s)
Khedives and Pashas (1884)
Egyptian Finance (1887)
From Pharaoh to Fellah (1889)
ChildrenEnid Moberly Bell

Family background

An Egyptian scene in the year of his birth

Charles Frederic Moberly Bell was born in Alexandria. At this period, Egypt was ruled by Muhammad Ali, and its second city was a major Mediterranean trading port, dealing in commodities such as Egyptian cotton. His father was a merchant, and first cousin to George Moberly, Headmaster of Winchester College and later bishop of Salisbury. This made Charles Frederic second cousin to Charlotte Anne Moberly, a pioneering educationalist best known for the Moberly-Jourdain incident.

His mother, Hester Louisa née David, was named after her godmother, Lady Hester Stanhope, the archaeologist and traveller. Hester Louisa's mother, Louisa Jane, was one of the two Williams sisters who were protected and provided for by Lady Hester and her uncle, William Pitt the Younger, British prime minister.[1] Moberly Bell appeared to believe the family story that the Williams girls were Pitt's illegitimate children, and attempted unsuccessfully to obtain proof.[2]

Both his parents died while Charles Frederic was still a child. He was sent "home" to England to live with relatives and be educated there. He returned to his birthplace in 1865, at the age of 18, and worked briefly for the same company as his father had, Peel & Co..[3]

Journalism and The Times

Moberly Bell 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 Egyptian Gazette in 1880.

During the bombardment of Alexandria in July 1882, he was a guest alongside rival journalist Frederic Villiers on board HMS Condor when its commander Lord Charles Beresford attacked Fort Marabut.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6] In 1908, Bell helped to engineer its sale to Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe. Bell remained with the paper until his death in 1911.

Encyclopædia Britannica

According to Herman Kogan, who wrote The Great EB: The Story of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Bell's single most notable accomplishment was his deal with American Horace Everett Hooper to reprint and sell that multi-volume work of reference under the sponsorship of The Times.[5] 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.[5]

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."[6] 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.[5]


Bell wrote three books: Khedives and Pashas (1884), Egyptian Finance (1887), and From Pharaoh to Fellah (1889).[7]

Marriage, daughter, biography

In 1875 Moberly Bell married Ethel Chataway; the couple had two sons and four daughters.[3] Two of her brothers, James Vincent and Thomas Drinkwater, emigrated to Australia and became newspaper proprietors and politicians. James visited Egypt in 1889 to learn about the sugar cane industry.[8]

Like his cousin the bishop, Moberly Bell's biography was written by an academic daughter, in his case Enid. The Life and Letters of C. F. Moberly Bell was published in 1927, 16 years after his death. A swifter appearance was the entry in the Dictionary of National Biography 1912 supplement, written by William Flavelle Monypenny, the biographer of Benjamin Disraeli.

Newnham College, Cambridge Universityalma mater of Enid Moberly Bell and partner Anne M. Lupton, M.B.E.

Enid Moberly Bell (1881–1967) wrote several other books, including biographies of the journalist Flora Shaw and the social reformers Octavia Hill and Josephine Butler. Enid was first head-mistress at Lady Margaret School in Parsons Green,[9] and vice-chair (to Lady Frances Balfour, former president of the National Society for Women's Suffrage) of the Lyceum Club for female artists and writers.[10]

Enid set up a home in Chelsea with Anne Lupton (1888–1967); a sort of Boston marriage. Enid and Anne studied at Newnham College at Cambridge University where Enid graduated with an M.A. in 1911.[11][12] Anne was the sister of Olive Middleton, née Lupton (d.1936). Both Olive and Anne were actively involved in women's issues; in 1910, Olive was an honorary secretary of the West Riding Ladies' Club[13][14] and in 1938, Anne organised an exhibition at the London Housing Centre for the centenary of Octavia Hill's birth which was visited at Anne's own request by Queen Mary.[15] Anne purchased a Georgian house and donated it to Lady Margaret School which Enid had established in 1917.[16][17] Enid and Anne collaborated to publish works concerning the suffragette cause.[18][19]


  1. "Educating and providing for female servants" quoting an 1806 letter from Lady Hester in which she refers to the Williams sisters as her children, and "infinitely too well educated for a servant"
  2. "Questioning the parentage of Elizabeth and Louisa Jane Williams", quoting CFMB's letter of July 1873 to Earl Stanhope
  3. DNB 1912 biography
  4. Famous Fighters of the Fleet, Edward Fraser, 1904, p. 300
  5. 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.
  6. Kitchen, F. Harcourt (1925). Moberley Bell and his Times: An Unofficial Narrative. London: Philip Allan and Co.
  7. "BELL, Charles Frederic Moberly". Who's Who. 59: 127. 1907.
  8. Kennedy, K.H. (1979). Chataway, James Vincent (1852–1901). Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  9. Housing Review, Volume 17. Housing Centre – The University of California. 1968. p. 48. Retrieved 30 April 2016. (pages 3 and 48)...Miss Anne Muriel Lupton, M.B.E., was in Fulham that Enid Moberly Bell became the first headmistress of Lady Margaret....She herself worked on War Pensions, which was recognised by the award of M.B.E. Her father died in 1921....
  10. Dictionary of British Women's Organisations: 1825 – 1960 by Peter Gordon
  11. "Contemporary Authors: First revision – Volumes 5–8". Gale Research Company. 1969. p. 786. Retrieved 28 October 2017. MOBERLY-BELL, Enid 1881– PERSONAL: Born March 24, 1881, in Alexandria, Egypt; daughter of Charles Frederic (a journalist) and Ethel (Chataway) Moberly-Bell. Education: Newnham College, Cambridge University, M.A., 1911
  12. Housing Review, Volume 17. Housing Centre – The University of California. 1968. p. 48. Retrieved 30 April 2016. (pages 3 and 48)...Miss Anne Muriel Lupton, M.B.E., our chief founder, benefactor, former chairman and vice-president, at the age........Anne went to Newnham College, Cambridge, and in 1914 on the marriage of her elder sister.....She (Anne) was active in the work of the Fulham Housing Improvement was in Fulham that Enid Moberly Bell became the first headmistress of Lady Margaret....She herself worked on War Pensions, which was recognised by the award of M.B.E. Her father died in 1921....
  13. "Notices". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. West Yorkshire, England. 25 January 1910. Retrieved 28 October 2017. ...gratefully welcomed, and may be addressed to me at the West Riding Ladies’ Club, 14 Park Row or at Rockland, Newton Park. — Yours, etc., OLIVE C. LUPTON. Hon. Sec.... Rockland, Newton Park, Leeds, Jan. 24
  14. Crawford, Elizabeth (2 September 2003). The Women's Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866–1928. Routledge. ISBN 1135434026. Retrieved 28 October 2017. West Riding Ladies' Club, 14 Park Row, Leeds
  15. "Anne Lupton – Housing Review, Volume 17". Housing Center (Great Britain) 1968 (page 48). 1968. Retrieved 28 October 2017. When Anne came to organise an exhibition at the Housing Centre for the centenary of Octavia Hill's birth in 1938....It was after this exhibition, which was visited at her (Anne's) own request by Queen Mary, that Enid Moberly Bell, the friend with whom Anne lived for so many years, wrote the biography of housing management's pioneer Octavia Hill...
  16. "Lady Margaret School Centenary". Westminster Abbey. 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017. She founded a school (Lady Margaret) on Parson's Green...This is a day for celebrating the friends and supporters of Lady Margaret over the years beginning with the great Enid Moberly Bell and her friend Anne Lupton
  17. Owen, Brian (2015). "Lady Margaret School". Lady Margaret School Ltd. Retrieved 25 May 2015. In 1937, the second house, Elm House, was purchased through the generosity of Miss Anne Lupton.
  18. Enid Moberly, Bell (1963). "Josephine Butler: Flame of Fire". Constable. p. 5. Retrieved 28 October 2017. Finally, I (Enid) would express my gratitude to Miss Anne Lupton who read, sorted and catalogued the Fawcett Library letters, bringing order out of chaos, and without whose collaboration and continuous help I could not...
  19. "Life Members London Housing Centre". Housing Centre Trust (Great Britain). 1959. p. 12. Retrieved 28 October 2017. Lupton, Miss A.M...