BELL, Charles Alfred

BELL, Charles Alfred. Calcutta 31.10.1870 — Oak Bay, Victoria, B.C. 8.3.1945. Sir. British Tibetan Scholar, Traveller, and Civil Servant in India. Born as a son of a civil servant (in India) Henry B., educated at Winchester and Oxford (New College). In 1891 joined Indian service in Bengal. In 1900 started learning Tibetan in Darjeeling. From 1904 Assistant Political Officer in Sikkim, 1908 Political Officer. In 1910 head of the political delegation concluding the treaty of protectorate with Bhutan. In 1919 retired, but was soon called, in 1920, to head a diplomatic delegation spending 11 months in Lhasa. He was acquainted with the Dalai Lama already in Darjeeling in 1910-12. Travelled in 1933-35 in Tibet, Mongolia, and Siberia. Until 1939 lived in Berkshire, then moved to Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) in order to be able to concentrate in his literary work in spite of the war. Married 1912 Cashie Kerr (d. 1935), two daughters and one son. K.C.I.E. 1922, C.M.G. 1915, and F.R.G.S. In his language books he used the Lhasa dialect.

Publications: With W. F. T. O’Connor: Rules for the Phonetic Transcription into English of Tibetan Words. Darjeeling 1904.

Manual of Colloquial Tibetan. 153+451 p. Calcutta 1905; parts reedited separately, as Grammar of Colloquial Tibetan. 224 p. Calc. 1919, and Dictionary of Colloquial Tibetan. 562 p. Calc. 1920. On Lhasa dialect.

Tibet Past and Present. 324 p. Oxford 1924 (German transl. Lp. 1925); The People of Tibet. 20+319 p. 75 ill. L. 1928; The religion of Tibet. 235 p. Oxford 1931.

Portrait of the Dalai Lama. The Life and Times of the Great Thirteenth. 414 p. ill. L. 1946.

Sources: B.J. Gould, D.N.B. 1941-50, 68-70; J.L.M., Man 45, 1945, 132; E.H.C. Walsh, JRAS 1945, 112; Who Was Who 1941-1950; Wikipedia with photo.

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