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Elbert Hubbard

Elbert Hubbard

Elbert Green Hubbard, a renowned American philosopher, artist and publisher, started his life’s journey of 58 years on 19th June, 1856. It will not be really inappropriate to say that Elbert Hubbard was a marketing genius; many consider him to be the grandfather of marketing. He was born in Bloomington, Illinois. His father Silas Hubbard, was a medical doctor and had moved to Bloomington just an year prior to Elbert’s birth. However, he never really got settled in Bloomington because of already well established doctors there. So in 1857 Silas took his family to Hudson, Illinois. This is where Elbert along with his siblings attended a local public school. Later he recalled his school days as superb. He remembered having no ambition back in school days, all he wanted was to become a renowned checkers player of his town.

Before entering Harvard College in 1893, Elbert held a number of jobs starting from working on a farm, a cub reporter and a teacher. At the age of sixteen Elbert joined Larkin and Weller, his brother-in-law’s soap company as door to door salesman and soon worked his way up the ranks. When 19, he moved to Buffalo to work at Larkin Soap home office. There he created many successful advertisement campaigns. In 1879 at the age of 25 he married Bertha Crawford.

In the eighties Elbert took a large cash out from Larkin Soap and left the company to become a novelist. He published three novels under a pen name. In 1895, Elbert decided to start his own print shop, he had set up “a little building like an old English chapel” as he recalled earlier. He named it Roycroft Press which later proved to be the foundation of his enormous success. This was the first press for The Philistine magazine. Elbert’s inspirational essay ‘Message to Gracia’ in Philistine which was first published just as a filler, gained huge popularity for the press and soon after its inauguration Roycroft received an ever increasing appreciation and recognition. By 1903, the press has transformed itself from a little building to a campus where hundreds of dedicated sycophants were working.

Elbert attracted an ever growing group of artists, pilgrims and admirers from all over the world. Young hard working men and women hoped to be a part of this vibrant artistic community. Known for its vast variety of hand-illuminated books, Mission furniture, stained glass, leather goods, and copper utensils, the shop gained international recognition. His second wife Alice Moore, a noted feminist, also earned the community an attraction of free thinkers and reformers. In 1913 Elbert lost his right of citizenship been convicted of an offence against the US postal service laws. However he successfully seeked pardon from President Woodrow Wilson and regained his passport so that he could travel Europe in order to cover the world war.

On 1st May 1915 Elbert Along his wife Alice boarded the British Ocean Liner, Lusitania. They were traveling to visit and interview German Kaiser Wilhelm. While in Irish Sea the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by German Submarine. Elbert and his wife refused to be parted from each other at the last minute in boarding life boats and stayed on the deck of sinking ship.

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