Helen Hemenway Weaver, writer, translator and astrologer, died Tuesday, April 13, 2021 in her home in Woodstock, New York. She was 89.
Helen was born in Madison, Wisconsin and grew up in Scarsdale, New York. In 1952 she graduated magna cum laude from Oberlin College with a B.A. in English Literature. After a three-year marriage ended in divorce, she moved to New York’s Greenwich Village, where she worked briefly for Paradigm Books and then for five years at Farrar Straus and Company in the production and editorial departments and eventually became a professional literary translator.
Helen Weaver has rendered some fifty books from the French from Piaget to Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings which was a Finalist for the National Book Award in translation in 1977.
A self-styled bohemian, beatnik, and hippie, Weaver had intimate friendships with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Lenny Bruce, among others. She met Kerouac in 1956 while he was on the cusp of publishing On the Road, the novel that would make both his career and the Beat Generation. More than fifty years later, Weaver published her memoir of their affair and life in the fifties, The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties (2009).
In her review in The New York Times, Tara McKelvey wrote “Kerouac’s soul lives on through many people — Joyce Johnson, for one — but few have been as adept as Weaver at capturing both him and the New York bohemia of the time. He was lucky to have met her.” Kerouac modeled a fictional character, Ruth Heaper, after Helen, in his book Desolation Angels.
Helen began her study of astrology in 1968, first with Zoltan Mason and later with Richard Idemon. She is co-author and general editor of The Larousse Encyclopedia of Astrology (1980) which she translated, revised, and expanded with the aid of Allan Edmands, Charles Jayne, Charles Harvey, and Rob Hand.
She left Greenwich Village for Woodstock in 1972 and continued her scholarly study of Astrology. She wrote a weekly article about Astrology for the Woodstock Times for many years.
In 2001 Weaver self-published a book about animal communication, The Daisy Sutra: Conversations with my Dog. At the time of her death, she was completing a book about her scientist father, the late Warren Weaver, and their extraordinary dialogue about science and astrology.
Her father, Warren Weaver, was a scientist, author, and world traveler who was Director of Natural Sciences at the Rockefeller Foundation for twenty-seven years. Her mother, Mary Hemenway Weaver, taught Latin and ancient history. Her brother, Warren Weaver, Jr., was a political reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times.
Helen is survived by four nieces: Carolyn Fenn of Abilene Kansas, Sally Weaver of Merion Pennsylvania, Melissa Weaver Dunning of Berryville Virginia and Annie Buck of Underhill Vermont, and their progeny. Funeral arrangements were under the direction of Seamon-Wilsey Funeral Home.