Helen Lane

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This article is about the translator. For the cancer patient and originator of the HeLa cell line, see Henrietta Lacks.

Helen Lane (1921 – August 29, 2004) was a renowned translator of Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian language literary works into English. She translated works by numerous important authors including Jorge Amado, Augusto Roa Bastos, Marguerite Duras, Juan Goytisolo, Mario Vargas Llosa, Curzio Malaparte, Juan Carlos Onetti, Octavio Paz, Nélida Piñon, and Luisa Valenzuela.


Lane began her career in the 1940s as a government translator in Los Angeles, before moving to New York City to work for publishers there. She became a freelance translator in 1970, and moved to the Dordogne in France. In addition to her books, she also provided subtitles for films by Jean-Luc Godard and Haskell Wexler.

She received the PEN Translation Prize in 1975 and 1985.


She was born Helen Ruth Overholt in Minneapolis and graduated summa cum laude in 1943 from the University of California, Los Angeles, where in 1953 she went on to gain a master's degree. after that, she continued there in postgraduate work, as well as at the Sorbonne.

List of translations[edit]

Alternating Current, Lane's translation of Octavio Paz, won the 1974 U.S. National Book Award in the category Translation (a split award).[1]


  1. ^ "National Book Awards – 1974". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
    There was a "Translation" award from 1967 to 1983.