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date: 22 September 2018

BELL, Anthea

The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature

Daniel Hahn

BELL, Anthea (1936– ) British translator, 

one of the few literary translators in the English-speaking world to specialize in books for children. Her first commissioned translation was a children’s book, Preussler’s Little Water-Sprite (1960), and she has gone on to translate dozens more, mostly from French and German, including several books by Cornelia Funke (including the Inkheart trilogy), Erich Kästner, René Goscinny’s Le Petit Nicolas and new versions of stories by the brothers Grimm. She is perhaps best known in this field, however, for being the translator (with Derek Hockridge) of all the books in the Astérix series, which has allowed her to show off her virtuosity in rendering the books’ humour and dense wordplay. She claims to have picked up the lateral thinking required for such work from her father, Adrian, the first setter of the Times crossword. She won the Marsh Award in 1996 (for her translation of A Dog’s Life by Christine Nöstlinger), in 2003 (Where Were You, Robert? by Hans Magnus Enzensberger), and 2007 (The Flowing Queen by Kai Meyer); and the Batchelder Award on a record four occasions (1976, 1979, 1990, and 1995). Besides her children’s career, she is also one of the most renowned translators of French- and German-language books for adults.