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Bell: The Papers of Julian Heward Bell

Reference Code: GBR/0272/JHB

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises essays, reviews, poetry, plays and correspondence written by Julian Bell, as well as secondary material; that is, correspondence, printed obituaries and news cuttings assembled since Julian Bell's death by Quentin Bell.


  • Creation: 1922 - 1997


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright in Julian Bell's writings is held by Anne Olivier Bell. All enquiries concerning permission to quote in print from the writings of Julian Bell should be addressed to The Society of Authors, who are licenced to act on her behalf. For further information, please contact the Archivist.

Biographical / Historical

Julian Heward Bell, the eldest son of Clive and Vanessa Bell, was born in 1908. The young Bell spent his first years in Bloomsbury, with the occasional sojourn - especially during the summers - to Charleston in Sussex. From his parents he learned about the classics, modern literature, history, astrology and geology, while he learned some science from David Garnett.

The boy began attending Leighton Park school in 1922, later spent a year in Paris and came up to King's College, Cambridge in 1927. At university he explored his interest in poetry and politics, studying both English and History. He also became a member of the Apostles and wrote for literary magazines, especially 'The Venture'. Near the end of his university career Bell published his first book of poems, 'Winter Movement' (1930), but its reception, if good, was not particularly enthusiastic.

The following four years were devoted to research on two dissertations, one concerning Pope's poetry and the other concerning applications of ethics to aesthetics and politics. Neither gained Bell the Fellowship he sought, however, and in 1935 he went to China as a Professor of English at the National University of Wuhan. The war in Spain drew him back to Europe in 1937, where he intended immediately to join the Republican army. He was persuaded to visit his mother first, however, and to spare her feelings - as well as to assauge her pacifist priniciples - he agreed to join the British Medical Unit in Spain as a lorry driver instead. He was killed while driving at the battle of Brunete on 18 July 1937.


5 archive box(es) (5 boxes) : paper

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue is available in hard copy in the Archive Centre.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The majority of the papers of Julian Bell were presented to King's College Library in October 1985 by Professor Quentin Bell. The letters from Julian Bell to Vanessa Bell dated 1935, sent via Sir Edward Playfair, and the short stories by Ling Hsu Hua with a covering letter from R.A. Scott-James dated 1936, were given by Professor Bell in November 1992. The provenance of later accessions has been noted with the specific items.

Related Materials

For further papers of Julian Bell held by King's College, see the catalogue of the Charleston Papers (CHA), particularly for many letters between Julian and Vanessa Bell dated 1916-37. See also the catalogues of the Roger Fry Papers (REF) and the John Maynard Keynes Papers (JMK). Additional material is held among the Miscellaneous Papers, including items listed under the names of Harold Barger (MISC 21/36), Margery Fry (MISC 79/6), David Garnett (MISC 82/10), Sir Edward Playfair (MISC 82/2-9), Helen Soutar (MISC 81/6-7), and MISC 30/64.


The biographical information above has been taken from A. and V. Palmer, 'Who's Who in Bloomsbury' (Brighton: Harvester, 1987), pp. 10-12, as well as the 'Annual Report of the Council, King's College Cambridge' (November 1937), pp. 7-8. For further biographical details, the reader is referred to the following published works, copies of which are available in the Modern Archive Centre: Quentin Bell, 'Julian Bell: Essays, Poems and Letters' (London: Hogarth Press, 1938) and Peter Stansky and William Abrahams, 'Journey to the Frontier: Julian Bell & John Cornford, their Lives and the 1930s' (London: Constable, 1966).


A first listing of the collection was prepared before the material was transferred to King's College. This new catalogue was completed in August 1997.


Bell, Julian Heward (1908-37), writer

1999-07-24 14:02:22+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archive Centre, King's College, Cambridge Repository

King's College
Cambridge CB2 1ST United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 331444