Anne Bell, 102, a last link with the Bloomsbury group
ANNE Olivier Bell, who edited the diaries of Virginia Woolf into five landmark volumes, and was a rare surviving link to the Bloomsbury group, the coterie of English artists and intellectuals prominent in the first half of the last century, died on July 18 at her home in Firle in Sussex, England. She was 102.
She was interviewed often late in life, and self-deprecation toward having been a part of so much history was generally her attitude.
“I haven’t any imagination,” she told The Telegraph in 2014. “But I was lucky to spend my life among fascinating people.”
Anne Olivier Popham was born on June 20, 1916, in London. Her father, AE Popham, was an authority on Italian drawings and keeper of prints and drawings at the British Museum.
Her mother, Brynhild (Olivier) Popham, was a cousin of the actor Laurence Olivier.
During the war Bell was a research assistant at the ministry of information, and just after the war ended in 1945 she was recruited to join the Monuments Men – the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section – which had been created in 1943 by the Allied armies.
She was sent to the British zone of occupied Germany, where she co-ordinated officers who were trying to repair damaged churches and other things of architectural or artistic significance.
“We didn’t have much power, and they were always trying to commandeer castles as their messes, and we were always trying to stop them, because they’d ruin them,” she told The Telegraph.
She returned to England in 1947, working at the Arts Council of Britain, where she edited catalogues and prepared exhibitions.
Quentin Bell, a son of Vanessa and Clive Bell, began courting her. They married in 1952. He died in 1996. – The New York Times