Olivier Bell (1)

I heard last night of the death yesterday of Olivier Bell, one of the more remarkable people that I have known: a survivor of Bloomsbury, her father was A.E. Popham, the Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, her mother Brynhild Olivier, a member of the Olivier family (Laurence Olivier was a cousin) and a Neo-Pagan, who went off with a younger man during the first world war, and had to be helped financially by H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. Olivier was one of the first students of the Courtauld Institute, a great admirer of Anthony Blunt, and was taught how to make a particularly delicious cocktail, made of gin, lime juice and ginger beer, by Guy Burgess. I knew her late in her life, presiding over the kitchen at Cobbe Place in Sussex, conveniently close to Charleston, later in Heighton Street, in a cottage overlooking the Firle Estate, and, most especially, as a very active Trustee of Charleston. She was a formidable guardian of the shrine of Bloomsbury and all it stood for.

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One thought on “Olivier Bell (1)

  1. Janine Catalano says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Charles, and this sad update, but a life incredibly well lived. As she was a Courtauld alumna (one of the very first), I had the privilege of interviewing her about 10 years ago, and it is a conversation I will never forget.
    I hope you are well and sending warm wishes, Janine
    Janine Catalano Director of Development Whitechapel Gallery 77-82 Whitechapel High Street London E1 7QX
    +44 (0)20 7539 3358 janinecatalano@whitechapelgallery.org
    http://www.whitechapelgallery.org

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