Olga Litowinsky, 67, Was Author, Editor, Mentor
Olga Jean Litowinsky died July 20, at her home in Edgartown, after a long illness. She was 67. Miss Litowinsky had a long and renowned career in New York publishing as an editor and writer.
Olga was a superb editor, turning many good manuscripts into award-winning novels. "There is nothing that can't be fixed," she said to author Patricia Reilly Giff, regarding writing novels. "And you can always do better than ‘There is' to start a sentence."
She was a member of the worldwide Society of Children's Book Writers from its small beginning in 1971. She worked for Viking, Macmillan and Scribners, and for more than a decade was executive editor at Delacorte Press and Dell, where she acquired and published prize-winning and best-selling hardcover and paperback books for children. She directed the publication of Yearling Classics, a series that included works of Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain, among others. Two books she edited, Betsy Byars' The Night Swimmers and Susan Bonners' A Penguin Year, received the American Book Award. In 1990, she moved to Simon & Schuster as executive editor of Books for Young Readers, and developed and launched the department's first hardcover and paperback fiction list.
In addition to editing the work of others, Miss Litowinsky wrote books of her own, including The Pawloined Paper, The High Voyage: The Last Crossing of Christopher Columbus, Boats for Bedtime, Short Circuit, The Dream Book and It's a Bunny-Eat-Bunny World, a look at the current state of childrens' book publishing.
She taught courses on publishing at Hofstra and Adelphi universities, and was in demand as a lecturer. During the last 10 years, she became a literary agent and divided her time between her homes in New York and Martha's Vineyard.
On Martha's Vineyard she belonged to several writing groups. Here, she became an enthusiastic gardener and a dedicated cook and reaffirmed nature lover. She loved visiting the Thrift Shop, garage sales and the Dumptique. She wrote her picture book, Boats for Bedtime, on the Vineyard, and at her passing she was working on a children's book about lighthouses.
She is survived by her companion of many years, Edward Babin, a sister, Anne Freidrich of Spring Lake, N.J., two nieces and three nephews.
Plans for a memorial service in Manhattan have not been finalized. Her body was donated to Harvard Medical School for research on ovarian cancer. Those who wish may send memorial contributions to Writer's Group at the Up-Island Council on Aging, P.O. Box 3174, West Tisbury, MA 02575; Hospice of Martha's Vineyard; the Visiting Nurse Service of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2010, Edgartown, MA 02539, and COMSOG, P.O. Box 2048, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.