Hanna Bell, Sam (1909-1990)


Sam Hanna Bell, (1909-1990) was born in Glasgow, the son of Ulster-Scots emigrants. When his father, a journalist with the Glasgow Herald died he was sent to live with his mother's family at Raffey near Strangford Lough. After some time at Belfast Art School he worked in a range of jobs, eventually ending up writing documentary scripts for BBC Northern Ireland. He was encouraged by Louis MacNeice, eventually becoming a features producer from 1945 to 1969 when he retired. His work for the BBC included "Fairy Faith" (1952), "The Saint and the Storytellers" (1953), programmes on William Allingham, William Carleton, Sam Thompson, the Ulster Group Theatre and the Ulster Literary Theatre, as well as on the folk customs and folklore of Ulster. Sam Hanna Bell was responsible for the establishment of the archives of folklore and folk music at BBC Northern Ireland. He was influenced by Sean O'Faolain, who accepted his work "Summer Loanen" for publication in The Bell in 1941, he continued to write short stories and criticism, whilst maintaining a keen interest in local folklore. His writing reflects his interest in the social and cultural history of Ulster Protestantism.