Frances Keene, a writer, translator and educator who specialized in the Romance languages, died on June 26 at Southampton Hospital on Long Island. She was 83 and lived in East Hampton, N.Y. The cause was pancreatic cancer, said her son Adriano Valentino.
Ms. Keene's translations from the Italian included works by Cesare Pavese and Luigi Pirandello. She also edited an anthology of writings by anti-Fascist Italians and exiles, "Neither Liberty Nor Bread" (1940). As an editor at Ridge Press, Ms. Keene helped develop children's books for other companies. These included the Double-Language Books for Doubleday, Fast Books and Look-and-Do Activity Books for Rand McNally and paperbacks for the Scholastic Book Series. She was also the editor of the juvenile books program for Macmillan and worked with such authors as Maurice Sendak and Hilary Knight.
She wrote a number of books for young readers, using the pen name Alex Rider, and reviewed books for The New York Times Book Review, The Nation and other publications. Ms. Keene was born in Boston and was a graduate of Smith College. She received a master's degree in Italian literature from Columbia University. During World War II, she worked with the Office of War Information. In later years she was a consultant for Unesco's multilingual books and was a founder of the Society of Children's Book Writers.
Her three marriages ended in divorce. In addition to her son Adriano, of East Hampton, she is survived by two other sons, Alexander Ratensky of Tampa, Fla., and Luca Valentino of New York City; a daughter, Dr. Antonia Meltzoff of La Jolla, Calif., and a grandchild.
Last modified: Thursday, 31-May-2007 09:42:17 EDT