Anthea Bell, Asterix Translator, Passes 1936-2018

by Olly MacNamee

Anthea Bell – Born 10 May 1936; died 18 October 2018

Now, I know Asterix has never been a big thing over in America, but for many of us here in the UK and Europe, Asterix was a staple of our childhoods and beyond. Asterix encouraged me to read, encouraged me to seek out further books as well as more comics, too. Asterix was my gateway drug into a hobby that has now dominated the majority of my life so far, and so it was with some sadness I learnt of the passing of Anthea Bell, who translated Asterix for the UK market since 1970 when she was given the task of translating Asterix’s 8th adventure, Asterix in Britain. She translated every book after that, right up to 2013 and Asterix and The Picts, bringing her journey with the diminutive dynamo, Asterix, full circle and back to Blighty.

It was through The Guardian’s obituray that I learnt Anthea was more than just a translator and that she contributed greatly to the mythos of Asterix. She gave Dogmatix his now familiar name (he was originally called Idéfix), and was responsible for Getafix’s name too. A name that has had people debating what herbs he was really putting into his potions ever since.
Bell was award an OBE in 2010 for her services to literature and literary translations, having worked on hundreds more books other than the 35 Asterix books she translated, and in 2015 she was given the Cross of Merit by the German government for her “invaluable contribution to furthering understanding between Germany and the UK”.
She is survived by her sons, Richard and Oliver, her twin siblings, Martin and Sylvia, and her twin granddaughters, Eleanor and Alexandra.

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