Despite a lifetime of tireless work on behalf of animal welfare organisations, Ernest Bell is now totally forgotten by the very same organisations. Yet as the tributes from his close friends Henry Salt and Stephen Coleridge testify, Bell's achievements were as significant as they were varied. Bell's contribution to the Humanitarian League is in itself impressive, as were his essays such as Christmas Cruelties.
In 1927 a collection of his writings was published entitled 'Fair Treatment for Animals' consisting of articles previously published in the Animals' Friend journal which he edited for over thirty years. The following year Bell's 'Summer School Papers: Animal, Vegetable and General' was published. The book was republished in 1932 as 'The Wider Sympathy'.
In addition to his humanitarian work, he worked for this family's publishing company George Bell & Sons who published the Vegetarian Society and the Humanitarian League journals. He was editor of the Animals' Friend and was President of the Vegetarian Society and co-founded the League for the Prohibition of Cruel Sports.
Ernest Bell Memorial Library
In 1934 Henry Salt suggested the establishment of the Ernest Bell Library as a fitting memorial to him. In this Library the literature of vegetarianism and all the other humanitarian movements in which Mr. Bell was so deeply interested would be collected and made available. In 1936 it was announced that 'The Executive of The Vegetarian Society have undertaken the establishment of a Humanitarian Library as a Memorial to the late Ernest Bell, President, Treasure, Secretary, or otherwise an active worker for, and generous supporter of numerous humanitarian societies." The collection was to be housed in the Manchester Reference Library (Manchester Central Library). Appeals for books and journals appeared in both the Vegetarian Messenger and the Vegetarian News. For unknown reasons the Library in Manchester was never established.
As of September 2013 we have assembled over 200 pieces of Ernest Bell's writings.
The Ernest Bell Library has more than 1,500 books, newspapers, magazines, journals, manuscripts, postcards, badges & more.
Funds are actively being raised to make all of the items available online.
We've not been able to trace the whereabouts of Ernest Bell's letters and manuscripts but the George Bell & Sons collection is at the University of Reading.
Over time we hope to do justice to this forgotten hero.