Betty Radice (3 January 1912 – 19 February 1985) was a literary editor and translator. She became joint editor of Penguin Classics, and vice-president of the Classical Association. Her English translations of classical and medieval Latin texts were published in the mid-twentieth century.
|Born||3 January 1912|
|Died||19 February 1985|
|Occupation||Editor and translator|
Born Betty Dawson in Hessle, Yorkshire on 13 January 1912, she was the daughter of William Dawson, a solicitor who was a scholar and musician and active in public life. William died in the 1918 flu pandemic, leaving her mother, Betty, sister Nancy and a brother in diminished circumstances. Both girls attended Newland High School, Hull.
In 1935 she married Italo de Lisle Radice, whom she had met as an undergraduate. Together they relocated to London where Betty tutored in classics, Philosophy and English for Westminster Tutors and de Lisle began a civil service career. Together they had five children, Thomas, Catherine, Teresa, William and John. Teresa died in infancy and Catherine died from lupus erythematosus in 1968. She became a teacher of classics from this time.
From 1959 she became an assistant to E. V. Rieu, one of the founders of the series of translations, Penguin Classics, which had begun in 1946 with Rieu's translation of Homer's Odyssey. When Rieu retired in 1964, she and Robert Baldick succeeded him as joint editors. When Baldick died in 1972 and his successor C. A. Jones died in 1974, Radice became the sole editor of the series. She spent 21 years as editor of Penguin Classics.
She died on 19 February 1985, of a heart attack.
Her son, William Radice, an academic at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, is a scholar of Bengali language and literature. Her grand-daughter Katharine Radice is a classical scholar.
In her association with Penguin Classics, Betty Radice worked as both an editor and a translator. Her editing was said to be "imaginative and open-minded, forever on the look-out for the new, the fresh, the surprising and the original". When it came to translating verse, although her mentor E.V. Rieu did not believe that poetry could be reproduced in other languages and so favoured prose translations, Radice herself preferred verse translations and under her editorship this became the norm.
Her son William notes that she found translation challenging, writing in 1974, "...nothing in my experience involves so much drudgery, minute application, exasperation at being tied to another's thought processes."
Her works include:
- The Annual Obituary, 1988, p. 88.
- Wynn, Margaret (1987). Radice, William; Reynolds, Barbara (eds.). The translator's art. Essays in memory of Betty Radice. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin. p. 31. ISBN 0-14-009226-9.
- Wynn, Margaret (1987). Radice, William; Reynolds, Barbara (eds.). The translator's art. Essays in memory of Betty Radice. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin. p. 32. ISBN 0-14-009226-9.
- Radice, William; Reynolds, Barbara (1987). The Translator's Art. Essays in honour of Betty Radice. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin. p. 29. ISBN 0-14-009226-9.
- Radice, William; Reynolds, Barbara (1987). The Translator's Art. Essays in honour of Betty Radice. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin. p. 20. ISBN 0-14-009226-9.
- Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus (1963). The Letters of the Younger Pliny. trans. Betty Radice. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044127-1.
- Abelard and Heloise (1974). The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. trans. Betty Radice. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044297-9.
- Livy (1982). Rome and Italy: Books VI-X of the History of Rome from its Foundation. trans. Betty Radice. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-14-044388-2.
- Terence (1976). The Comedies. trans. Betty Radice. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-044324-X.
- Radice, Betty (1976). Who's Who in the Ancient World. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-051055-9.
- Terence (1967). Phormio and Other Plays. trans. Betty Radice. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-1-199-92194-9.
- Erasmus (1971). Praise of Folly. trans. Betty Radice. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0140446081.