Keith Botsford

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Saul Bellow (left) with Keith Botsford ca 1992

Keith Botsford (born March 29, 1928, in Brussels, Belgium) is an American/European writer, Professor Emeritus at Boston University and current editor of News from the Republic of Letters.


Keith Botsford was born in Belgium of an expatriate American father and an Italian mother. His mother (1897–1994) was born Carolina Elena Rangoni-Machiavelli-Publicola-Santacroce, 2nd. daughter of the Marchesa Alda Rangoni. He grew up in a trilingual house, and was educated in English boarding schools. His father returned to the United States early in 1939, and together with his mother and brother, the Botsfords were expelled from Italy on the outbreak of World War II.

Thereafter, Keith Botsford was educated in California, and, after 1941, at Portsmouth Abbey in New England [1]. Keith Botsford was briefly attracted to the monastic life, but then continued his education at Yale University, which he left in 1946 to enlist in the US Army, where he served in counter-intelligence. He finished his formal university education at the University of Iowa (A.B., 1950) and at Yale with a Masters in French Literature (A.M., 1952).

In a long career marked by his varied interests, Botsford then studied composition at the Manhattan School of Music, Japanese at Columbia University, the law at Holborn College in London. He was attracted to music and composed a number of chamber works, a ballet, choral music and part-songs. With John Houseman, he worked in film, theater and television.

Keith Botsford's academic career, often combined with administrative tasks, began at Bard College in 1953, where he met his lifelong friend Saul Bellow.[1] In 1958, after two years in Europe living off translation, Keith Botsford became Asst. to the Rector of the University of Puerto Rico, taught Comparative Literature, founded the Honors Program and directed the University of Puerto Rico's television program.

In 1962, Keith Botsford was invited by his University of Iowa friend, John Hunt, to join the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Keith Botsford worked with the Congress for Cultural Freedom spending three years in Latin America while based in Rio de Janeiro and Mexico City.

In 1965, Keith moved back to England to become Deputy International Secretary of International P.E.N., where he organized the Bled Round Tables, the first to which Soviet writers were invited.

After serving at P.E.N., Keith Botsford was invited to become the Director of the Ford Foundation’s National Translation Center[2] at the University of Texas, Austin (1965–1970), where he also was Professor of English.

In 1971, Keith Botsford returned to England where he began a twenty-year career as a sports journalist with The Sunday Times. He also became a Feature Writer and columnist on Gastronomy for The Independent, which he joined in its first week. In addition, Keith Botsford was also a features writer and U.S. correspondent for the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

By the late 1970s, Keith Botsford had combined his journalism with a post as Professor of Journalism and Lecturer in History at Boston University and a position as Asst. to the President John Silber.

Keith Botsford retired as Professor Emeritus, Boston University in 2006. He now lives in Costa Rica in a RIBA Award-winning house on the Caribbean coast[3] designed by his architect son, Gianni Botsford.[4]

Botsford has eight living children and sixteen grandchildren.[5]


Botsford’s work as a novelist is divided into two periods: the first four novels – The Master Race [1955], The Eighth-best-dressed-Man in the World [1957], Benvenuto [1961] and The March-Man [1964] – were either semi-autobiographical or political in nature; his later books (after he returned to fiction in 1989) include three major autobiographical works: O Brother! [2000], The Mothers [2002], and Death and the Maiden [2007] form a coherent trilogy about his brother, his early wives (and mothers) and, in the last, a reprise of The March-Man, his father.[6] During this second period he also published a series of stories and novellas, described as ‘imaginary biographies’, collected in Out of Nowhere [2000]. At the same time he also wrote five non-fiction books on sporting figures and four crime and espionage novels under the pseudonym I.I. Magdalen.


Rockefeller Foundation Grant, Moody Foundation Grant, ATA Translation Prize

Published works[edit]


  • Jozef Czapski: A Life in Translation [2] (The Cahier Series, vol.10. Sylph Editions, June, 2009)
  • Collaboration (2007)
  • Death and the Maiden (2007)
  • Emma H. (Toby Press, 2003)
  • The Mothers (Toby Press, 2002)
  • Lennie & Vance & Benji (Toby Press, 2002)
  • Editors: The Best of Five Decades (Toby Press, 2001) edited by Keith Botsford and Saul Bellow
  • Out of Nowhere (Toby Press, 2000)
  • The Champions of Formula 1 (Arrow Books Ltd., 1989)
  • Keke, (Hutchinson, May 1985)
  • Ana P. (Toby Press, 1983)
  • The Search for Anderson or Anderson Minor (St. Martins Press, 1982)
  • Driving Ambition (Atheneum, 1981) by Keith Botsford and Alan Jones
  • Dominguin: Spain's Greatest Bullfighter (Quadrangle Books, 1972)
  • The March-Man (Viking, 1964)
  • Benvenuto (Hutchinson, 1961)
  • The Eighth-Best Dressed Man in the World (Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 1957)
  • The Master Race (Wingate,1955)

Short stories[edit]

  • “Francoise” (Toby Press, 2000)
  • “Mister Zeiss” (Toby Press, 2000)
  • “Grievances” (Toby Press, 2000)
  • “The Town of Luck” (Grand Street Magazine, no. 52, p178)
  • “Along the River Plate” (Toby Press, 2000)
  • “Olga & Snow” (Toby Press, 2000)
  • “O Brother” (Toby Press, 2000)


Symposium: Who are the five most underrated and/or overrated musicians, and why? BOULEVARD. Fall 2010, vol. 25, Nos. 2&3. 25th Anniversary Issue. p. 68-70.

Mexico Follows a 'Solo Camino'; The 'single path' of the all-powerful P.R.I. has given the nation a stability rare in Latin America. Can the system continue to work? Mexico Follows A 'Solo Camino' By KEITH BOTSFORD. New York Times. Apr 26, 1964. p. SM20 (5 pages)

'There Is No Censorship,' Said Poland's Censor; Report From a Surrealist Capital Report From a Surrealist Capital In Poland, neither politics nor the state can be safely ignored "We are Communists in the sense that you are democrats" By KEITH BOTSFORD. New York Times. Sep 11, 1966. p. 305 (11 pages)

Why Students in France Go Communist; Elite Proletarians All Elite Proletarians All (Cont.) By KEITH BOTSFORD. New York Times. Nov 13, 1966. p. 280 (6 pages)

If les Mao won their revolution, they would immediately start another Les Mao Maoist cause celebre By Keith Botsford. New York Times. Sep 17, 1972. p. SM12 (6 pages)

Look who's in bed with whom; Decision in France By Keith Botsford. New York Times. Mar 4, 1973. p. 246 (7 pages)

The white Rolls-Royce; Stars beyond the firmament By Keith Botsford. New York Times. Mar 25, 1973. p. 318 (6 pages)

The Music And the Man; Hindemith By KEITH BOTSFORD. New York Times. Nov 27, 1977. p. 257 (2 pages)

A God Who Made Words By KEITH BOTSFORD. New York Times. Dec 27, 1981. p. BR2 (2 pages)

THE POLLINI SOUND; POLLINI POLLINI POLLINI By Keith Botsford. New York Times. Mar 1, 1987. p. SM30 (6 pages)

MAVERICK VIOLINIST; For all his success, Gidon Kremer pursues his own, eccentric muse. KREMER KREMER KREMER By Keith Botsford. New York Times. Oct 2, 1988. p. SM50 (5 pages)

Reflex-ions on Kennedy By Keith Botsford. KOLOKOL. Grafica Panamericana, S. de R. L., Parroquia 911, Mexico, D. F., Jan 25, 1964. (18 pages)


  • Sixth Form 1939, by Marcella Olschki. Publisher: Toby Press, August 2002, 72 pages translated by Keith Botsford.
  • Women and Faith: Catholic Religious Life in Italy from Late Antiquity to the Present, by Lucetta Scaraffia. Publisher Harvard University Press, November 1, 1999, 432 pages, translated by Keith Botsford.
  • The Sacralization of Politics in Fascist Italy, by Emilio Gentile. Publisher Harvard University Press, September 1, 1996, 222 pages, translated by Keith Botsford.
  • The House of Others, by Silvio D’Arzo. Publisher Marlboro Press, October 15, 1995, 125 pages, translated by Keith Botsford.
  • Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds, by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc., October 20, 1994, 256 pages, translated by Keith Botsford.
  • History of the French Revolution: Volume VI, Books 11, 12 13, by Jules Michelet. Publisher: Livingston Publishing, 1973, translated by Keith Botsford
  • Human Relations Area Files (anthropology) 1958-1960, eight books manly on Viet Nam, translated by Keith Botsford

Book introduction[edit]

Ceremony in Lone Tree, by Wright Morris. Publisher: Bison Books, September 1, 2001, 304 pages. Introduction by Keith Botsford



Founding editor
  • Delos
  • Kolokol
Co-founding editors Keith Botsford & Saul Bellow
  • ANON
  • The Noble Savage
  • News from The Republic of Letters

Bostonia, Poetry New York, Grand Prix International, Yale Poetry Review

Contributing editor

Leviathan, Stand, The Warwick Review

Newspaper articles[edit]

The Sunday Times of London, The Independent, La Stampa


  • Debrett's People of Today, UK;[3]
  • Books [4];
  • "Encuentro con Keith Botsford", Insula, num. 262, p. 4;
  • "Jedno udane zycie", Tygodnk Powszechni, 22, p. 36ff;
  • "Czlowiek Rwnwsansu", Henryk Skwarczynski, Odra, no.7-8, vol XLVIII, 2008
  • The American University of Paris - Center for Writers and Translators;[5]

External links[edit]