Julian Bell

Julian Bell

Julian Heward Bell (4 February 1908 – 18 July 1937) was an English poet, and the son of Clive and Vanessa Bell, the elder sister of Virginia Woolf. The writer Quentin Bell was his younger brother; the writer and painter Angelica Garnett is his half-sister. His relationship with his mother is explored in Susan Sellers' novel "Vanessa and Virginia".

He was brought up mainly at Charleston, Sussex. He was educated at Leighton Park and King's College, Cambridge, where he joined the Cambridge Apostles. He was a friend of some of the Cambridge Five, and sometimes claimed as Anthony Blunt's lover. (As such, he appears in the BBC dramatisation "Cambridge Spies".) After graduating he worked towards a college fellowship, without success.

In 1935 he went to China, to a position teaching English at Wuhan University. He wrote letters describing his relationship with a married lover, K.; the identity of this woman became a sensitive issue when the Chinese-British novelist Hong Ying published a fictionalised account, "K: The Art of Love" in 1999. After a 2002 ruling by a Chinese court that the book was 'defamation of the dead', the author rewrote the book, which was published in 2003 under the title "The English Lover".

In 1937 Bell took part in the Spanish Civil War, as an ambulance driver on the Republican side. He was killed in the battle at Brunete.

Quentin Bell's son, Julian's nephew, is also named Julian Bell. He is the author of "Mirror of the World: A New History of Art" (2007).


*Winter Movement (1930) poems
*We Did Not Fight: 1914-18 Experiences of War Resisters. (1935) editor
*Work for the Winter (1936) poems
*Essays, Poems and Letters (1938) edited by Quentin Bell


*"Lily Briscoe's Chinese Eyes: Bloomsbury, Modernism, and China" (2003) Patricia Laurence
*"Vanessa and Virginia" Susan Sellers

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