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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Clara Bell, née Poynter (1835–1927), was an English translator fluent in French, German, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Norwegian, Russian, and Spanish,[1][2] noted for her translations of works by Henrik Ibsen, Balzac, Georg Ebers, Huysmans, Maupassant, Pérez Galdós and others. She was educated in France, where she became fluent in French and German; she did not acquire her knowledge of the other languages until after her fortieth birthday.[1] She spent most of her life in London.

Bell was born in Westminster to architect Ambrose Poynter and Emma Forster;[3] her brother was Sir Edward Poynter, a director of the National Gallery.[4] She was a distant relation of Edward Burne-Jones and Rudyard Kipling.[4] She was married to banker Robert Courtenay Bell (1816–1896) with whom she had six children,[3] one of whom was Charles Francis Bell, who oversaw the Fine Art Department of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.[4]

Under the direction of George Saintsbury, Bell, Ellen Marriage, and Rachel Scott were responsible for translating the vast majority of Balzac's Human Comedy into English,[5] superseding earlier translations that had generally been regarded as stilted.[5] The low pay that translators received at that time[2] required Bell and her colleagues to complete work quickly,[5] but her translations have nonetheless been noted for their close adherence to the source texts, and their high degree of readability.[5][6]

Bell also translated the novel Noodlot of the Dutch writer Louis Couperus (1863–1923), published under the title Footsteps of Fate.[7]


  1. ^ a b The Illustrated American: 22 November 1890, p.500
  2. ^ a b The Author: A Monthly Magazine for Literary Workers: Vol.2: 15 November 1890, p. 170
  3. ^ a b Clara Poynter (1835-1927) on [1][permanent dead link]
  4. ^ a b c "Charles Francis Bell on The Dictionary of Art Historians". Archived from the original on 2012-04-15. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  5. ^ a b c d The Encyclopedia of Literary Translation into English, Vol. 1: p.101
  6. ^ The Yale Literary Magazine, Vol. 53, No.6: March 1888, p.280
  7. ^ Caspar Wintermans, Dear Sir. Brieven van het echtpaar Couperus aan Osar Wilde. Woubrugge, 2003

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This page was last edited on 22 September 2020, at 08:50
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