Idris Bell

Not to be confused with Harold Bell.

Sir Harold Idris Bell CB OBE (2 October 1879 22 January 1967) was a British papyrologist (specialising in Roman Egypt) and scholar of Welsh literature.

Bell was born at Epworth, Lincolnshire to an English father and a Welsh mother. He was educated at Nottingham High School and Oriel College, Oxford. In 1903,[1][2] he joined the British Museum as an assistant in the Department of Manuscripts and remained there his entire working life, becoming Deputy Keeper of the Department in 1927[3] and Keeper in 1929.[4] He retired in 1944.

Bell was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1920 civilian war honours for his wartime services as editor of the Food Supplement of the Daily Review of the Foreign Press. He was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1936[5] and was knighted in 1946.[6]

His son, David Bell, with whom he translated the works of Dafydd ap Gwilym in 1942, was the curator of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea.


  1. The London Gazette: no. 27562. p. 3650. 9 June1903. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 27572. p. 4196. 3 July 1903. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 33332. p. 7537. 25 November 1927. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 33521. p. 4996. 30 July 1929. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34296. p. 3998. 23 June 1936. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 37502. p. 1387. 15 March 1946. Retrieved 2008-10-10.

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