Julian Bell and Elizabeth Watson

Julian Bell (1908-1937) and Elizabeth Watson, circa 1930. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Julian Bell
Born Julian Heward Bell
February 4 1908(1908-Template:MONTHNUMBER-04)
Died July 18 1937(1937-Template:MONTHNUMBER-18)
Brunete, Spain
Nationality United Kingdom English

Julian Heward Bell (4 February 1908 - 18 July 1937) was an English poet.

Life Edit

Bell was the son of Clive and Vanessa Bell (who was the elder sister of Virginia Woolf). Writer Quentin Bell was his younger brother, and 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 School 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 Chinese-British novelist Hong Ying published a fictionalized 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, aged 29.

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, and other poems. London: Chatto & Windus, 1930.
  • Work for the Winter, and other poems. London: Leonard & Virginia Woolf / Hogarth Press, 1936.
  • Still Life, and other poems. Woodside, CA: Occasional, 1987.

Collected editionsEdit

  • Essays, Poems and Letters (edited by Quentin Bell). London: Hogarth Press, 1938.


  • We Did Not Fight: Experiences of war resisters. London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1935.
    • also published in Reminiscences of war resisters in World War I. New York: Garland, 1972.

See alsoEdit


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


External linksEdit

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