Anthea Bell and Isabel Quigly

19 October 2018

We were saddened to learn of the deaths of two of our Council members this month - writer, translator and film critic Isabel Quigly, who died on 17 September, and translator Anthea Bell who died on 18 October.

Both joined the SoA in 1968, around the time Anthea Bell embarked on her renowned translations of the Asterix the Gaul series. Both were highly influential translators, SoA Council Members, and great supporters of the Translators Association.

Society of Authors CEO Nicola Solomon said of Isabel Quigly:

'She was much admired by all at the SoA and her many correspondences reveal her unfaltering warmth and charm ... and it is with great fondness that we recall her role as a judge for the Somerset Maugham Award. We are immensely grateful for her dedication over the years and are certain that her legacy will continue to live on.'

Daniel Hahn, translator and member of the SoA’s Management Committee, wrote of Anthea Bell: 

"She was, of course, the best in the business – an extraordinarily good and prolific translator, as well as incomparably generous to her colleagues in the field. Anyone who received those long e-mails she used to send would know what an effortlessly elegant stylist she was, but more than that, she was a startlingly versatile one. I first learned her name, as so many people did, because she was the person who wrote all those impossible Asterix jokes I loved so much; but to other people she was Sebald, or perhaps Kafka – or sometimes Freud? She was Cornelia Funke or Erich Kästner for children, Saša Stanišić and Stefan Zweig for adults, and so many others besides. Literature struggles to thrive without translation; today I can’t help wondering how we readers and writers ever could have managed without Anthea Bell."

Ruth Martin, co-chair of the Translators Association added: 

"Anthea was the translator we all wanted to be: brilliant in a huge range of styles and genres, and as warm and witty in real life as she was on the page. Over the years, she was an inspiration and a friend to so many of us in the translation community – always ready with encouragement, suggestions and anecdotes – and she will be sorely missed."

 

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