One of the many privileges of my role at New Books in German has been working closely with Anthea Bell, who was a great supporter of the project from its very early days.
Anthea gave generously of her time to NBG, attending countless editorial meetings over the years. The discussions at those meetings, where we select the books for review, benefitted hugely from her wealth of experience. A mention of certain authors, plotlines, character types or publishers would spark advice, reminiscences and anecdotes that were both enlightening and entertaining. Anthea was always ready to suggest editors likely to be interested in particular books, and to share examples of past successes (and failures!) that might influence a new book’s chances.
Alongside this industry experience came enormous erudition, which made the reader’s reports that she wrote for NBG over the years works of art in their own right. Written with her characteristic warmth and wit, the reports were always a highlight of the editorial process, and the committee all miss her greatly.
Anthea’s great capacity for building connections was as evident in our discussions about German literature as in her dealings with other translators. She was tirelessly supportive of the profession and of those starting out in it, and many of the reminiscences that poured into the NBG office after her death recalled moments when she had encouraged emerging translators on their way. Our articles and interviews in these pages are inspired by Anthea, by her personal and intellectual generosity and her extraordinary range, with pieces on translating classics, diversity in children’s publishing, graphic novels (think Asterix, of course!) and emerging translators.
The world of German-language literature in translation, and indeed the whole literary translation scene in the UK, is immensely richer for Anthea’s part in it, and her name will undoubtedly live on. Anthea, we salute you!
Charlotte Ryland, Editor