Anthea Bell: English translator (1936-) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Anthea Bell
English translator

Anthea Bell

Anthea Bell
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro English translator
Is Translator
From United Kingdom
Gender female
Birth 10 May 1936, Sudbury, Babergh, Suffolk, East of England
Age 87 years
Father: Adrian Bell
Spouse: Antony Kamm
Children: Oliver Kamm
The details (from wikipedia)


Anthea Bell OBE (born 1936) is an English translator who has translated numerous literary works, especially children's literature, from French, German and Danish to English. These include Austerlitz by W. G. Sebald, and the French Asterix comics along with co-translator Derek Hockridge.


Bell was born in Suffolk. According to her own accounts, she picked up lateral thinking abilities essential in a translator from her father Adrian Bell, Suffolk author and the first Times cryptic crossword setter. After attending a boarding school in Bournemouth, she read English at Somerville College, Oxford.

She lives and works in Cambridge. One of her two sons is Oliver Kamm, who is a leader writer for The Times. Her brother, Martin Bell, is a former BBC correspondent who was an independent Member of Parliament for one parliamentary term.


Anthea Bell has translated numerous Franco-Belgian comics of the bande dessinée genre into English, including Asterix – for which her new puns have been critically acclaimed for keeping the original French spirit intact. Peter Hunt, now Professor Emeritus in Children's Literature at Cardiff University, has written of her "ingenious translations" of the French originals which "in a way display the art of the translator at its best". Other comic books she has translated include Le Petit Nicolas, Lieutenant Blueberry, and Iznogoud.

She specialises in translating children's literature, and has re-translated Hans Christian Andersen's fairytales from Danish for the publishing house of G. P. Putnam's Sons. She also translated the Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke and the Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier. Other work includes The Princess and the Captain (2006), translated from La Princetta et le Capitaine by Anne-Laure Bondoux. A book aimed at the youth but serious enough to be read by adults, The Satanic Mill by Otfried Preußler was translated by her from the German original Krabat.

Bell has also translated into English many adult novels, as well as some books on art history, and musicology. Her translations of W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz (plus other works by Sebald), a large selection of Stefan Zweig's novellas and stories, Władysław Szpilman's memoir The Pianist , and E. T. A. Hoffmann's The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr have been well received. In addition, Penguin Classics published Bell's new translation of Sigmund Freud's The Psychopathology of Everyday Life in 2003.

Bell was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2010 New Year Honours for services to literature and literary translations.

Notable awards

  • 1996 – Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation – for Christine Nöstlinger's A Dog's Life translated from German
  • 2002 – Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator's Prize, Goethe Institute – for W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz
  • 2002 – Independent Foreign Fiction Prize – for W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz
  • 2003 – Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation – for Hans Magnus Enzensberger's Where Were You Robert? translated from German
  • 2007 – Marsh Award for Children's Literature in Translation – for Kai Meyer's The Flowing Queen translated from German
  • 2009 – Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize – for Saša Stanišic's How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone

Mildred L. Batchelder Award

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award is unusual in that it is given to a publisher yet it explicitly references a given work, its translator and its author. Its intent is to encourage the translation of children's works into English in order "to eliminate barriers to understanding between people of different cultures, races, nations, and languages."

Anthea Bell, translating from German, French and Danish, has been mentioned for more works than any other individual or organisation (including publishers) in the history of the award:

Batchelder Awards and Honors as translator

Year Publisher Title Author Translator Original Language Citation
1976 Henry Z. Walck The Cat and Mouse Who Shared a House Ruth Hürlimann Anthea Bell German Winner
1979 Franklin Watts, Inc Konrad Christine Nöstlinger Anthea Bell German Winner
1990 E.P. Dutton Buster's World Bjarne Reuter Anthea Bell Danish Winner
1995 E.P. Dutton The Boys from St.Petri Bjarne Reuter Anthea Bell Danish Winner
2006 Phaidon Press Limited Nicholas René Goscinny Anthea Bell French Honor
2008 Phaidon Press Nicholas and the Gang René Goscinny Anthea Bell French Honor
2009 Amulet Books Tiger Moon Antonia Michaelis Anthea Bell German Honor
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