A very overdue congratulations is owed to Somerville alumna, Anthea Bell (English Language and Literature, 1954), who was awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on the 29th of January 2015.
In a ceremony at the German Embassy in London, attended by family and colleagues, Bell was presented the award by Ambassador Peter Ammon in recognition of her services to translation and outstanding cultural understanding between Germany and the UK.
Bell has had a long and distinguished career translating German titles into English. Past translations include works by Kafka, Stefan Zweig, ETA Hoffmann, Erich Kästner and Cornelia Funke. Her particular affection, however, is reserved for translations of German children’s books – most notably the Asterix and Obelix series.
“[Bell] opens doors to the most wonderful worlds for younger generations, providing them with the opportunity to engager with authors who might otherwise be unknown to them,” said Ambassador Ammon in a speech at the ceremony.
Bell was awarded an OBE for her translation work in 2010 and has received many accolades throughout her career including receiving the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize, the Schlegel Tieck Prize for Translation from German and the Marsh Award for Children’s Literature. She also won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, for which she has also been nominated a further three times.
“What really made me laugh was that the Ambassador asked me to sign for him not one of the very many works of German literature ancient and modern that I have translated, but the first Asterix the Gaul album produced by the new author and artist,” said Bell.