Carol Southern Keneas, whose editing style is credited for the success of the “Angelina Ballerina” books as well as a wide range of titles including “Jackson Pollock,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of the artist, died on Saturday in New York City of complications of cancer surgery.
She was born Carol Kauffman in Silver Spring, Md. She was an art student living in Greenwich Village when she met the satirical writer Terry Southern, the author of “Candy” and “The Magic Christian” and the black humorist behind the film “Dr. Strangelove.” Mr. Southern also wrote the screenplay for “Easy Rider.” He became a 1960s icon and is pictured on the cover of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album.
The couple lived on a barge in the Hudson River until pulling up stakes and heading to Europe, where Mr. Southern wrote and hobnobbed with postwar literary figures in Paris. Ms. Southern worked at the United Nations school in Geneva, teaching elementary school students from 1956 to 1960.
The couple moved back to the States and found the center of the New York City literary world that included William Styron, George Plimpton, Peter Matthiessen, and John Marquand. The Southerns’ marriage ended in 1965.
Ms. Southern became the executive editor of Clarkson Potter, part of the Random House group, from 1976 to 1981, establishing its reputation as a publisher of nonfiction and illustrated books. She is credited with “discovering” Martha Stewart and with defining the genre of illustrated lifestyle books that took off in the 1980s.
For the next decade she served as editor in chief of Clarkson Potter and in 1993 was awarded her own imprint at Random House, Carol Southern Books. Her titles included “Smart Women,” “Foolish Choices,” and “When Kafka Was the Rage.”
During this time she married Alex Keneas, a film critic for Newsday. Mr. Keneas died in 1986.
For the past decade or so, Ms. Southern was semiretired and had returned to her first love, painting. Her watercolors were recently exhibited at a gallery in Kolonaki Square in Athens.
She lived in various places on the South Fork, from Southampton to Amagansett, until she bought a small house on Franklin Street in Sag Harbor. She sold it and bought and resettled on North Haven.
“I have a reputation for being the kind of good line editor you don’t see around much anymore,” Ms. Southern said in 1998.
“Editing the way Carol practiced it was not a profession but an art, sadly, a disappearing art that has now lost one of its living treasures,” wrote Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh, the authors of “Jackson Pollock.”
Ms. Southern was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor.