Animal Rights/ General/ vegan history/ vegetarian history

The Ernest Bell Library, Our Etymological Past, Sixpences, Dogs and Anti-Vivisection


Finding amazing creations / art such as this ~ 105 years old postcard gives us a real ‘buzz’.

100+ years ago truly great people were enthusiastically working / networking for animals – spreading the vegan message – opposing vivisection & much more.

More about this postcard below!

All of the books, magazines, leaflets, postcards etc. mentioned & pictured in this blog post are being preserved in the Ernest Bell Library, which is partnered with our ongoing Henry Salt Archive project.


The Ernest Bell Library is currently being cared for by the Hong Kong based charity The Humanitarian League.


In a few weeks the Ernest Bell Library will be celebrating its 80th year!


If anyone would like to help by either ‘Adopting’ or ‘Sponsoring’ items in the library, please be in touch.



From our copy of  – The Vegetarian Messenger & Health Review – September 1934 – transcribed – here.

We have many original items from the time of Henry B. Amos – plus we are continuously adding items to the collection as they are being donated to us, or as they offered to us by dealers.


The Ernest Bell Library’s primary objectives are to: –

  • Collect all of Ernest Bell’s book & non-book works and make them easily accessible to everyone.

  • Collect the literature of vegetarianism and all the other humanitarian movements in which Ernest Bell was so deeply involved.

  • Assist students and scholars in their research.

  • Introduce all aspects of Ernest Bell’s life, including his writings, campaign work, influences and his circle of friends.

  • Undertake our own research into missing aspects of Ernest Bell’s life and work.

We already have more than 300 pieces of Ernest Bell’s own writings.


We are also actively building a collection of examples of promotional material, campaign material, fundraising & marketing activities etc. – related to: –

    1. veg(etari)an products.

    2. veg(etari)an books & other publications.

    3. veg(etari)an organisations.

    4. veg(etari)an businesses.

    5. animal rights organisations.

    6. animal rights publications.

    7. humanitarian organisations.

    8. humanitarian publications.

    9. rambling clubs run by members of the above groups & related publications.

    10. the work of Richard St. Barbe Baker & the ‘Men of the Trees’ organization & its many sub-branches.


There are currently more than 2,000 items in the Ernest Bell Library.


We will complete the cataloging of the collection as & when adequate funds are available.


It is long past time for the library to go online!

 “I have little doubt that the proposal for the establishment of an Ernest Bell Library,

which would specialize in humanitarian and progressive literature,

and so form a sort of centre for students, will meet with a wide response.” 

Henry S. Salt – writing in September 1934


Vegans as ‘Thorough-Going Vegetarians’,

Sixpences, Dogs


Anti Vivisection

We are indeed grateful to Donald Watson who, in 1944, along with his wife Dorothy &  several other friends, thought up the delightfully simple word –

‘vegan’ =  a word from 1944 – yay!

Extract from the first issue of Vegan News – November 1944: –


We should all consider carefully what our Group, and our magazine, and ourselves, shall be called. ‘Non-dairy’ has become established as a generally understood colloquialism, but like ‘non-lacto’ it is too negative. Moreover it does not imply that we are opposed to the use of eggs as food. We need a name that suggests what we do eat, and if possible one that conveys the idea that even with all animal foods taboo, Nature still offers us a bewildering assortment from which to choose. ‘Vegetarian’ and ‘Fruitarian’ are already associated with societies that allow the ‘fruits'(!) of cows and fowls, therefore it seems we must make a new and appropriate word. As this first issue of our periodical had to be named, I have used the title “The Vegan News”. Should we adopt this, our diet will soon become known as a VEGAN diet, and we should aspire to the rank of VEGANS. Members’ suggestions will be welcomed. The virtue of having a short title is best known to those of us who, as secretaries of vegetarian societies have to type or write the word vegetarian thousands of times a year! – read the full issue – here.


Veganism has had some unusual ‘names’ in the past!

Prior to 1944 what we today call ‘vegans’ & ‘veganism’ went by a variety of names & terms – some of them quite manageable – others rather long &  convoluted!

Here are a selection from Henry S. Salt & Ernest Bell.

‘perfectly consistent diet’ = an 1886 term for veganism – Henry S. Salt

‘thorough-going vegetarians’ = an 1892 term for vegans – Ernest Bell

‘diet of the arboreal ancestors from whom we inherit our canine teeth (wrongly so called)’ = a ‘wordy’ 1905 term for veganism – Ernest Bell

Some folk may like to dig a little deeper into our etymological past via these links – courtesy of John Davis & friends – the earliest known uses of ‘vegetable diet’ ; ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ & the earliest known uses of the word ‘vegetarian’.


In 1886 – Henry S. Salt had predicted veganism in an essay – he had called it the –

perfectly consistent diet.’  


Excerpt – ~ ……..there is no doubt that the one paramount object or vegetarians is to diminish as much as possible the use of flesh-food, and that this object may be furthered quite as much by inducing a great many people to eat less meat as by inducing a very few to eat none at all. In the discussion of this, as of all other social questions, there is need of tolerance and consideration. Against the use of flesh-food—necessitating as it does the infliction of endless cruelties on the lower animals, and the violation of man’s innate sense of justice and gentleness—all vegetarians must record their uncompromising protest. That done, there is room for much variety of opinion in regard to other matters of less vital interest. The moderate use of eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and, some think, even of fish, is not necessarily censurable, and often furnishes a modus vivendi to would-be vegetarians, who cannot see their way all at once to the adoption of a perfectly consistent diet. ~  Food Reform by H. S. Salt – Westminster Review, October 1886 – full essay – here.


. In 1892 – in Ernest Bell’s Preface to the book – Mrs Bowdich’s New Vegetarian Dishes  – 1892 editions & later – he uses the term: –

‘thorough-going vegetarians’

in the place of our current  word


Excerpt – ~ The thorough-going vegetarian, to whom abstinence from meat is part of his ethical code and his religion, who would as soon think of taking his neighbour’s purse as helping himself to a slice of beef, is by nature a man of frugal habits and simple tastes. He prefers a plain diet, and knows that the purest enjoyment is to be found in fruits of all kinds as nature supplies them. He needs but little cookery, and that of the simplest. To him this book will be of little use except when he wishes to entertain his friends. ~



In 1905 – in  his Preface to the book Italian Recipes for Food Reformers. by Maria Gironci – Ernest Bell’s sense of humor & love of language shine out even more brightly!


becomes the rather unmanageable phrase, the

‘…wholesome and invigorating diet of the arboreal ancestors from whom we inherit our canine teeth (wrongly so called),…’



More about Ernest Bell

~ It is interesting to note too, that it was through food-reform that he was led into animal-reform. The introduction took place in 1874, whilst he was a student at Cambridge, through reading a pamphlet by Dr. T. L. Nichols, entitled “How to Live on Sixpence a-Day.” He was much benefited by the humane diet, and his growth to a fuller recognition of the kinship of all life was swift and basic. ~ – an obituary of Ernest Bell by Henry B. Amos – entitled – Ernest Bell: An Appreciation in Cruel Sports magazine, 1933 – transcribed – here.

How to live on Sixpence a Day_0001

The 1873 pamphlet / booklet which led to Ernest Bell’s ‘awakening’!


“In my early days a vegetarian was looked upon as a poor misguided crank who was expected to apologise for his ‘queer’ ways. Now, it is the meat-eater who apologises for his ways. In London there were no vegetarian dining places until Dr. Nichols, in 1879, opened the ‘Alpha’ Restaurant, in Oxford Street. Now, there are many, and most of the others have a vegetarian section.” – Ernest Bell talking with Henry B. Amos in 1924 – After Fifty Years: Interview with our President – The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review, January 1925, Vol. 22 No. 1 – in full – here.


Ernest Bell was active in the, then largely vegan, London Vegetarian Society.


He was also sometimes the President of the Manchester based – Vegetarian Society – which still today strongly promotes the use of eggs & milk products etc.




In addition to these roles, he was at different times Chairman of the National Anti-Vivisection Society and a prominent Member of the Humanitarian League, which he joined within a few months of its formation in 1891.


He was on the Council of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and also on the Council of the National Canine Defence League.


He was Treasurer of the Pit Ponies Protection Society, of the Cats’ Protection League, and of other animal societies.


He was also the Proprietor and Editor of the Animals’ Friend Magazine, which he founded in 1894.


Two of Ernest Bell’s favourite organizations

The National Canine Defence League 


The National Anti-Vivisection Society

Now we are sharing some of the Ernest Bell Library’s newly acquired items from the National Canine Defence League & the National Anti-Vivisection Society.


Many of Ernest Bell’s close friends were members of both of these organizations.


The National Canine Defence League was founded in 1891.


In our Ernest Bell Library we have quantities of the National Canine Defence League’s archival material.


The Dog’s Trust is the current name of the former – National Canine Defence League..

The National Anti-Vivisection Society dates back to 1875 & is going on strongly.


Ernest Bell most definitely was a ‘dog person’ –



 A circa 1909 postcard from the National Canine Defence League.

Photo by E.C. COOK, Photographer, 317 Fulham Rd, London. 


Postcard detail


 The reverse of the circa 1909 postcard

This postcard was published around the time of the ‘Brown Dog Riots‘ which broke out spasmodically in London between 1907 & 1910 in London.

The British public were very familiar with the anti-vivisection movement at this time.

Please give sixpence to help the strays

– would have been understood by many people as –

helping to care for the strays who would otherwise fall into the hands of the animal vivisectionists

The medical student rioters were protesting against this wording – the inscription on the original ‘Brown Dog Memorial’ –

In Memory of the Brown Terrier

Dog Done to Death in the Laboratories

of University College in February

1903 after having endured Vivisection

extending over more than Two Months

and having been handed over from

one Vivisector to Another

Till Death came to his Release.


Also in Memory of the 232 dogs Vivisected

at the same place during the year 1902.

Men and Women of England

how long shall these Things be?

These words were on the plaque on the original Brown Dog Memorial pictured below. More details about the ‘Brown Dog’ –  here.


Kim Stallwood in his new book GROWL p 95 –

~ ……much public attention had been brought to the plight of the Old
Brown Dog. The Daily News raised funds to pay Coleridge’s costs.

In 1906, surplus funds from the newspaper’s campaign were used
to erect a statue of the dog, which was placed in Latchmere recreation
grounds, south London, with the support of the local Labour council.
The memorial and its inscription (‘Men and women of England, how
long shall these things be?’) outraged medical students, who protested
at the site. The statue was in turn defended by local working-class
residents, particularly women, some of whom were suffragists. The
situation became so inflamed that in 1910 the local council, newly
elected with a Conservative majority, removed the statue. A week
after the removal, some three thousand anti-vivisectionists gathered
in Trafalgar Square in support of the Old Brown Dog, but nothing
came of it. Finally, seventy-five years later, a new statue, which included
the original inscription, was erected in Battersea Park. I recall
attending its unveiling, since the BUAV, along with the National Anti-
Vivisection Society, had sponsored its installation. ~


Postcard-Brown dog_0001 (1)

Postcard – the Brown Dog Memorial in Latchmere Recreation Ground, Burns Road, London SW11

Postcard-Brown dog_R

The reverse of the postcard of the original Brown Dog Memorial.

Look closely at the “chop’ on the top left hand corner of the image above.


An example of pre-HappyCow – pre-Facebook ‘Edwardian networking for the benefit animals’!

You could buy 100 of the Brown Dog postcards for 2/- ( two shillings )!

Just two shillings for the postcards – plus one hundred halfpenny stamps = 74 old British pennies = 7/2d ( seven shillings & two pennies ).

Imagine ‘messaging’ 100 of your ‘connections’ – but you could mail them only within the UK for this price!

For the benefit of our US friends £ 0.31 GBP = approx. US$ 0.53.

So, for US$ 1 you could have sent almost 200 postcards!


Previous articles on HappyCow which mention the National Canine Defence League (NCDL)


Anti-vivisection celebrities & the  NCDLhere.


The NCDL collecting one million signatures opposing the vivisection of animalshere.


If anyone would like more information, please send an email to: – 

humanitarianleague (at) outlook (dot) com 

– or message me through HappyCow –

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