Anne Olivier Bell studied Art History at the Courtauld Institute, London, from 1934 to 1937. She was a student of art historian Anthony Blunt and worked in the Institute’s Conway Library.
During WWII she was employed at Senate House in the Photograph Division of the Ministry of Information. In 1981 Bell helped found the Charleston Trust, and has been acclaimed as editor of the five volumes of The Diary of Virginia Woolf, for which she received two honorary degrees.
The Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Branch of the German Control Commission was established in 1943 to help protect and recover cultural property looted and dispersed during and after the Second World War.