Alexander Melville Bell
Alexander Melville Bell was born at Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1819. He became interested in phonetics and defective speech because his father, Alexander Bell specialized in those areas. He was a lecturer on topics related to elocution at the University of Edinburgh (1843-1865) and at the University of London (1865-1870). When in Edinburgh, Melville invented a graphic representation of the speech sounds based on articulatory positions. He called his phonetic alphabet “Visible Speech” and used it as a method for teaching individuals with problems of articulation, stammering, and deafness to speak more clearly. Bell first developed his system in 1864 and published it in 1867 under the title: Visible speech: The science of universal alphabetics.
Melville Bell married Eliza Grace Symonds, a painter of miniatures and a pianist. Eliza Bell had a severe hearing loss, which strongly affected the interest that Melville had in designing methods for teaching the deaf and others with communication difficulties. Melville and Eliza had three sons, Edward (Ted), Alexander (Aleck) Graham (the inventor of the telephone), and Melville (Melly). Both Ted and Melly died of tuberculosis. Aleck also contracted the disease, so his parents decided to emigrate to Brantford Ontario, in 1870 to help him in his recuperation. Aleck was 23 at the time.
Late in the 1870s, while living in Brantford, Melville became affiliated with the department of philology at Queens College in Kingston. He worked there for three years. In 1881 Melville and his wife moved to Washington, D.C., where he continued working to teach the deaf to speak, using his visible speech approach and working with his son Aleck to promote the telephone.
Bell and his son Alexander Graham Bell authored a number of articles and books on Visible Speech, phonetics, and various aspects of elocution.
Alexander Melville Bell’s Publications, Chronologically Arranged
Bell, A. M. (1845). Treatise on the art of reading. (Melville Bell’s description: An outline of the principles of grammatical clausing, emphasis etc, as more fully systematized in the Elocutionary Manual, Bell, 1867)
Bell, A. M. (1849). A new elucidation of the principles of speech and elocution; a full theoretical development, with numerous practical exercises, for the correction of imperfect, or the relief of impeded utterance, and for the general improvement of the reading and speaking; the whole forming a complete directory for articulation, and expressive, oral delivery. Edinburgh: The author.
Bell, A. M. (1851). (published anonymously) What is to be done with our convicts?
Bell, A. M. (1852). The language of the passions. (Description by M. Bell, 1867: Reprints from First edition of the “Elocutionary Manual,” consisting of passages marked for emphasis, inflexion, etc. The notations are different from those in the Third edition. Students of the latter may obtain useful comparative exercise from the reprints.)
Bell, A. M. (1852). Expressive reading and gesture. (Bell combines this with Language of the Passions.)
Bell, A. M. (1852). Steno-phonography. (For this system of phonetic shorthand, Bell received the medal of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts in 1854).
Bell, A. M. (1853). Observations on defects of speech: The causes and the cure of stammering, mal-articulations and defects. Edinburgh: W.P.Kennedy.
Bell, A. M. (1854). Lecture on the art of delivery and the influence of school discipline on public oratory. (Description by M. Bell, 1867: delivered to the Educational Institute of Scotland, and published by request of that body.)
Bell, A. M. (1854). The short hand master book. (Description by M. Bell, 1867: Book for beginners, adapted for self-instruction. Nine plates, price sixpence).
Bell, A. M. (1855). Popular stenography: Curt style. (Description by M. Bell, 1867: Embracing the substance of the paper read before the Society of Arts, with the first and the curt styles of writing, price, one shilling.)
Bell, A. M. (1857). The reporters’ manual and vocabulary of logograms. (Description by M. Bell, 1867: Containing the whole system, from its alphabetic rudiments to the development of principles adapted for verbatim reporting. Twenty-two plates. The complete system, price Half-a crown.)
Bell, A. M. (1857). (published anonymously) Common sense in its relation to homeopathy and allopathy.
Bell, A. M. (1858). Letters and sounds. A nursery and school book. (Description by Bell, 1867: An introduction to English reading, on an entirely new plan. The sounds, instead of the names of letters, are made the basis of instruction, and the lessons are strictly phonetic without new letters, or interference with ordinary spelling. The work contains practical directions to teachers and governesses, for carrying out the method, and for the prevention of impediments and defects of speech in children.)
Bell, A. M. (1859) (published anonymously). Colourt the island of humanity: A drama.
Bell, A. M. and Bell, D. C. (1860). The standard elocutionist. Edinburgh. (This went through some 200 editions) M. Bell’s description in 1867: A collection of upwards of four hundred extracts in prose and poetry, adapted for effective reading and recitation. The Principles of Elocution, condensed from the “Elocutionary Manual,” with relative exercises, are prefixed; and the extracts are classified.
Bell, A. M. (1862). Principles of speech.
Bell, A. M. (1863). Principles of speech and dictionary of sounds.
Bell, A. M. (1863). Sermon reading and memoriter delivery. Washington, D. C. Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1856). The emphasized liturgy. ( Bell ’s 1967 description: The morning, evening, communion and burial services, and all the collects, marked with simple directive notation, for emphasis and clause. With an introductory essay on the theory of emphasis, the expressiveness of tones, and the general intellectual and mechanical principles of public reading. Intended for private preparatory study of the church offices.)
Bell, A. M. (1866). Visible speech: A new fact demonstrated. (M. Bell’s 1967 description: This pamphlet contains a description of the nature of this cosmopolitan invention, and a record of its experimental applications: offer to Government, etc.)
Bell, A. M. (1867). Visible speech: The science of universal alphabetics, or Self –interpreting physiological letters, for the writing of all languages in one alphabet (Inaugural edition). London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co. (M. Bell’s 1867 description: A complete theoretical and practical exposition of the invention, and its applications; with modes of instruction etc. Illustrated by tables, physiological diagrams, exercises and examples of visible speech printing and writing. Inaugural edition, price fifteen shillings.)
Bell, A. M. (1868). English visible speech for the million. (M. Bell’s description in 1878b: For teaching the exact pronunciation of the language to native, foreign, or illiterate learners. Illustrated by physiological diagrams, exercised, etc. (40 cents).
Bell, A. M. (1869) Universal line writing and steno-phonography (M. Bell’s description in 1878b: A new work on the basis of “visible speech.” In five sections: I English vernacular and orthopoepic line writing for use in schools. II Universal line-alphabet for languages, telegraphy, etc. III Universal line-alphabet for embossed printing for the blind. IV. Elliptical steno-phonography, applicable to all languages, and fully developed for English. V. English reporting steno-phonography, 85 cents.)
Bell, A. M. (1870). Explanatory lecture on visible speech, the science of universal phonetics. (lecture) London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co.
Bell, A. M. (1872). Establishment for the study of vocal pathology: For the correction of stammering, etc. and for practical instruction in "visible speech". Boston, MA: Rand, Avery & Co.
Bell, A. M. (1878a). The principles of elocution, with exercises and notations, for pronunciation, intonation, emphasis, gesture and emotional expression. (5th ed.). Washington D. C.: J. C. Parker.
Bell, A. M. (1878b). The principles of speech and vocal physiology and dictionary of sounds. Embracing a full theoretical development for the guidance of parents, teachers, public speakers, etc. With minute practical directions and exercises for the cure of stammering and all impediments and faults of articulation. Salem, MA: James P. Burbank.
Bell, A. M. (1879). On teaching reading in public schools.
Bell, A. M. (1880). The faults of speech: A self-corrector and teachers' manual. Salem MA: J. P. Burbank.
Bell. A. M. (1881). Sounds and their relations. A complete manual of universal alphabetics; illustrated by means of visible speech: and exhibiting the pronunciation of English, in various styles and of other languages and dialects. Salem MA: J. P. Burbank.
Bell, A. M. (1883). Lecture upon letters and sounds and visible speech before the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Montreal Canada, on the 29th of August, 1882. Washington, Gibson Bros.
Bell, A. M. (1883). Visible speech reader, for the nursery and primary school, requiring no preparatory knowledge of visible speech on the part of the teacher. Cambridge, MA: M. King.
Bell, A. M. (1886). Stammering. Boston, MA: J. P. Burbank.
Bell, A. M. (1886). Essays and postcripts on elocution. NY: E.S. Werner
Bell, A. M. (1886). English line writing: A new, simple, and exact system of phonetics. NY: E. S. Werner.
Bell, A. M. (1887). University lectures on phonetics. Delivered in Johns Hopkins University and Oxford University, with an appendix on the phonetics of Roman letters. NY: E. S. Werner.
Bell, A. M. (1887). “Elocutionary manual.” The principles of elocution, with exercises and notations, for pronunciation, intonation, emphasis, gesture and emotional expression. (5th ed). Washington, D.C.: J. C. Parker.
Bell, A. M. (1888). World-English: The universal language.
Bell, A. M. (1888). Handbook of world English. NY: N.D.C. Hodges.
Bell, A. M. (1889). Popular manual of vocal physiology and visible speech. NY: N.D.C. Hodges. London, Truber & Co.
Bell, A. M. (1890). Speech reading and articulation teaching. NY: N.D. C. Hodges.
Bell, A. M. (1891). Address to members of the senate and house of representatives on amended orthography.
Bell, A. M. (1891). Note on syllabic consonants. Washington D.C. : Volta Bureau
Bell, A. M. (1892). Popular short-hand.
Bell, A. M. (1893). English Visible speech in 12 lessons. (illustrated). Washington D. C.: Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1893 or 4?). Speech tones. A paper read before the Modern Language Association of America, December 27, 1893 and dedicated to the National Association of Elocutionists. Washington, D. C. The Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1895). Address to the National Association of Elocutionists. Washington D.C.: The Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1896). Phonetic syllabication: The cure for oratorical defects of speech. Washington.
Bell, A. M. (1896). The sound of r. Washington D.C. Volta Bureau
Bell, A. M. (1896). Phonetic syllabification the cure for oratorical and other defects of speech. Washington, D.C.: The Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1897). The science of speech. Washington, D.C.: The Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1899). On the use of notations in elocutionary teaching. Presented to the members of the National Association of Elocutionists, March 1, 1899. Washington D.C.: Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1899). The fundamentals of elocutions.
Bell, A. M. (1900). Lecture on visible speech. Delivered at a reception of the New York Teachers of Oratory, February 14, Published in Werner’s Magazine, May 1900).
Bell, A. M. (1900). Principles of speech and dictionary of sounds: Including directions and exercises for the cure of stammering and correction of all faults of articulation. Washington, D. C.: Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1903). Facial speech reading and articulation teaching. Washington, D.C.: Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1904). English visible speech and its typography elucidated by Alexander Melville Bell. Washington D.C.: D. C. Gibson Bros.
Bell, A. M. (1904). Popular manual of vocal physiology and visible speech (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Gibson Brothers.
Bell, A. M. (1915). Cure of stammering and impediments of speech. Volta Review, 17.
Bell, A. M. (1916). Principles of speech and dictionary of sounds: Including directions and exercises for the cure of stammering and correction of all faults of articulation. Volta Review, 18, 39-42.
Bell, A. M. (1932a). English visible speech in twelve lessons (6th ed.). Washington, D. C.: Volta Bureau.
Bell, A. M. (1932b). The relation of stuttering to mental fatigue. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 17, 574-584.
About Melville Bell
Fuller, S. (1915). The Melville Bell symbols as an aid in correcting stammering. Volta Review, 17, 214-216.
Kidder, Charles Winslow (1896). An outline of vocal physiology and Bell ’s “Visible Speech”: The scientific basis for teaching correct articulation and pronunciation. Boston, MA: The author.