Anthea Bell, the translator who brought the works of WG Sebald, Franz Kafka and Asterix to English readers, has died at the age of 82, her son Oliver Kamm announced.
Bell began translating Asterix in 1969 and is credited with sharpening some of the best jokes and creating the best puns in the English version of the comic series. Working with both French and German texts, Bell was widely considered one of the most influential translators of her time. Apart from wildly popular children’s books such as the Inkworld trilogy, she also translated works by Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud and WG Sebald.
Bell was born in Suffolk, England in 1936. For a career spanning decades, translating both children’s books and those for adults, she was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2010.
In December 2017, her son wrote that she had been ill for the previous year and that “her great mind has now departed”. She was in the process of translating what would have been her 37th Asterix title when she had to enter a nursing home for her illness.