Facts and Events
Julian Heward Bell (4 February 1908 – 18 July 1937) was an English poet, and the son of Clive and Vanessa Bell (who was the elder sister of Virginia Woolf). The writer Quentin Bell was his younger brother, and the writer and painter Angelica Garnett was 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. (In the BBC dramatisation Cambridge Spies he appears as Guy Burgess's lover.) 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 fictionalized account, 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.
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).