Quentin Bell

Quentin Claudian Stephen Bell (19 August 1910 in London – 16 December 1996 in Sussex) was an English art historian and author.

Early lifeEdit

Bell was the son of Clive Bell and Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), and the nephew of Virginia Woolf (née Stephen).[1] He was educated at the Quaker Leighton Park School and at Cambridge.[2][3]

Quentin Bell's grave at St. Peter's Church, West Firle, East Sussex.


After being educated at Leighton Park School and in Paris, Bell became a Lecturer in Art History at the Department of Fine Art, King's College, University of Durham from 1952 to 1959, then became the first Professor of Fine Art at the University of Leeds from 1959 to 1967. In 1964 he was appointed Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University and, in 1965, Ferens Professor of Fine Art at the University of Hull. Bell was a Professor of Art History and Theory at the University of Sussex from 1967 to 1975.

He sometimes worked as an artist - principally in ceramics - but for his career he was drawn to academia and to book-writing. Bell's biography of his famous aunt, Virginia Woolf: A Biography, 2 vols (London: Hogarth Press, 1972), won not only the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, but also the Duff Cooper Prize and the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award. He also wrote several books on the Bloomsbury Group and Charleston Farmhouse.[4]


He was married to Anne Olivier Bell (née Popham). They had three children: Julian Bell, an artist and muralist; Cressida Bell, a notable textile designer; and Virginia Nicholson,[5] the writer of Charleston: A Bloomsbury House and Garden, Among the Bohemians and Singled Out.

His older brother was the poet Julian Heward Bell who died in the Spanish Civil War in 1937, aged 29. The writer and artist Angelica Garnett was his half-sister. He is a nephew of Virginia Woolf.


Quentin Bell is buried in the churchyard of St. Peter's Church, West Firle, East Sussex.


  1. ^ "Vanessa and Virginia" Susan Sellers
  2. ^ "'The Messiah' by Quentin Bell and Virginia Woolf". The British Library. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  3. ^ Simkin 2014.
  4. ^ Essays, Poems and Letters (1938) edited by Quentin Bell
  5. ^ "Virginia Nicholson-Biography". virginianicholson.co.uk. Retrieved 12 December 2011.


External linksEdit