The Kansas City Branch hosted Martin Bell, OBE, as part of the Evelyn Wrench Lecture series on Wednesday, November 6, 2013. The lecture was co-sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library. Mr. Bell, one of the best-known and most highly regarded names in British television journalism, presented a compelling lecture describing his life, his war experiences, the experience of being a British politician and his books.
Just as Walter Cronkite was "the most trusted man in American," so Martin Bell represents journalistic integrity and straight-talking to several generations of Britons. Martin Bell – "the man in the white suit" – is a British institution. He has been many things – an icon of BBC war reporting, Britain's first independent MP for 50 years, a UNICEF ambassador, a staunch supporter of rights for the armed forces, and a tireless campaigner for honesty and accountability in politics.
Mr. Bell's lecture, titled, "Conflicts, Politics and Poetry" covered a wide range of topics about his career as a British BBC journalist, a Member of the British Parliament and a distinguished author of several books including Through Gates of Fire, An Accidental MP, and In Harm's Way. His most recent book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, reveals he's also a talented poet of light verse and here Bell's poems continue his war by other means on duplicitous politicians, our all-consuming media, the venality of celebrity culture and much more.
The Kansas City Branch showed Mr. Bell a couple of Kansas City's cultural highlights upon his arrival by giving him a tour of the famous Kansas City landmark, the Liberty Memorial World War I Museum. He commented that the museum was one of the best museums he has ever seen. He also toured the Kansas City Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art which has many world-class collections including the largest Chinese collection of artifacts outside of China.
He also attended a special lecture that was previously scheduled as an ESU member event—the annual Felicia Londré lecture on the Shakespeare Authorship Question held on campus at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Dr. Londré is considered a world expert on the topic and has given lecture presentations throughout the U.S. and in other countries. Mr. Bell found her lecture fascinating and compelling.
The evening before Mr. Bell's lecture, the Kansas City Branch hosted an informal dinner in his honor in which thirteen members attended. The evening of the lecture, the Kansas City Public Library provided a wine and hors d'oeuvres reception for members and guests prior to the lecture. Mr. Bell autographed copies of his books after the lecture.
To see a photo album from Martin Bell's visit to Kansas City: Click here