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. She is known for her numerous translations, including Austerlitz, one of the most significant German language works of fiction for the period since World War II, and of 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.
- 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 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 referenced for more works than any other (including publishers) in the history of the award:
Batchelder Awards and Honors as translator
|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|
- It was formerly claimed on this page that Bell had translated from Polish, but she has denied this. See http://www.connexionfrance.com/asterix-english-translator-anthea-bell-interview-10695-news-article.html
- Claire Armistead "Anthea Bell: 'It's all about finding the tone of voice in the original. You have to be quite free'", The Guardian, 16 November 2013
- Peter France (ed) The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, p.111
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2009.
- "Batchelder Award Winners". American Library Association. 2008. Archived from the original on 13 February 2009. Retrieved 17 February 2009.
- "Batchelder Award". American Library Association. 2008. Archived from the original on 9 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
- Asterix, My Love – An article by Anthea Bell in the Daily Telegraph (London), Thursday 25 February 1999, formerly at the Asterix International site at the Wayback Machine (archived 28 April 2010)
- Anthea Bell's workshop on Asterix for Literary Translation, The British Council, ca. 1999 at the Wayback Machine (archived 27 March 2006)
- Opening Speech, Anthea Bell, Shelving Translation Conference, April 2004
- Making Asterix funny in English, The Connexion, March 2010
- Anthea Bell interview with Writer Unboxed
- Reviews of Anthea Bell's Stefan Zweig translations at Bookslut