Talbot Heath School were very pleased to welcome English translator Anthea Bell OBE this week, as their guest speaker, to talk about her life’s work to pupils, staff and Old Girls. The former pupil, who left Talbot Heath in 1954, has translated numerous literary works, especially children’s literature, from French, German and Danish to English; most notably the French Asterix comics written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo. Characters such as Jellibabix, Overanxius and Fishfingus highlight her wonderful wordplay when translating and her masterly puns have been critically acclaimed for keeping the original French spirit intact.
As an English graduate from Somerville College Oxford, Anthea stressed how important it was to have a high standard of English to be a translator and stated how reading poetry was vital for stimulating creativity. Sixth form students, currently studying Modern Foreign Languages at the school, were reassured to hear that it is important to ‘just have a go and that there is no shame in making mistakes’, and a present Upper 3 pupil was so impressed by Anthea that she has since decided to pursue languages in the future.
The inspirational message gained from Anthea’s visit can be summed up by the ethos of the Mildred L. Batchelder Award, (of which Anthea Bell is a multiple recipient): Its intent is to encourage the translation of children’s works into English in order ’to eliminate barriers to understanding between people of different cultures, races, nations and languages.’ Alongside Asterix, translating is also the hero.
Later in the day Anthea Bell also addressed the members of the Old Girls' Association who had gathered for the AGM at the school. She spoke about her time at Talbot Heath and in particular teacher extraordinaire Dorothy Rowe...