Book publisher Merloyd Ludington Lawrence died in Cambridge, Mass., on June 27, of congestive heart disease. She was 89.
Born in Pasadena, Calif., on August 1, 1932, Lawrence spent her childhood years in Ardmore, Penn, graduated from Radcliffe College in 1954, and was awarded a master's degree in comparative literature from Radcliffe in 1957. In the years that followed, she translated novels and children's books from French, German, and Swedish, including works by Balzac and Flaubert.
In 1965, she and her first husband, Seymour Lawrence, cofounded Seymour Lawrence, Inc., an imprint publishing both fiction and nonfiction. In 1984, she created her own imprint, Merloyd Lawrence Books, producing hundreds of works of nonfiction over the next four decades with Addison-Wesley, Basic Books, Da Capo Press, Hachette, and Perseus.
Lawrence was a famously nurturing and devoted editor. Esmeralda Santiago, whose classic When I Was Puerto Rican was published by Merloyd Lawrence Books in 1993, said of Lawrence: "Merloyd has influenced contemporary literature with her courage and wide-ranging vision. Her intelligence and sense of humor, her generosity and quiet strength brought out the best from the authors she edited."
Her publishing—and personal—interests included animal rights, child development, environmental activism, health care advocacy, and women's studies. Lawrence founded the Radcliffe Biography Series, and went on to publish the Pulitzer-Prize winning Children of Crisis series by Robert and Jane Hallowell Coles, as well as titles by Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot, John Hanson Mitchell, Kenneth R. Pelletier, Sandra Steingraber, and Steven Wise.
Among the many other publications Lawrence edited were T. Berry Brazelton's child development series, Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book, Ellen J. Langer's Mindfulness, and Lennart Nilsson's A Child Is Born.
Lawrence is survived by her children, grandchildren, and second husband of 37 years, Harvard research physicist John Martin Myers. A memorial service will be held at Kings Chapel in Boston in the early fall for family, friends, and colleagues.