Editor published Julia Child

Judith Jones (above) tried Julia Child's recipes before publishing the chef's book.
Judith Jones (above) tried Julia Child's recipes before publishing the chef's book.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK • Judith Jones, the legendary editor who rescued Anne Frank's The Diary Of A Young Girl from a publisher's reject pile and introduced readers to Julia Child and other influential cookbook authors, died on Wednesday at her home in Vermont. She was 93.

The cause was complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Jones helped open a world of cuisines to a public previously bound by convenience foods.

Beginning in the 1950s, she followed her instincts for what readers wanted to cook and championed the work of unknown authors. The list of these scholar-cooks includes Madhur Jaffrey, Claudia Roden, Marcella Hazan, Michael Field, Edna Lewis and Nina Simonds.

She also edited some of Alfred Knopf's famous fiction writers such as John Updike and Anne Tyler.

Without her discovery of Frank's memoir, while she was at Doubleday in Paris, American readers might never have been introduced to Frank's first-person narrative, one of the first Holocaust accounts to reach the United States.

Her role was small but pivotal and was enough to get her hired by Knopf in 1957. As a junior editor, she began primarily as a translator of such French writers as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.

But she had fallen for French food and was keen to unlock its secrets in her New York kitchen.

One day in 1959, a manuscript arrived on her desk. "From the moment I started turning the pages, I was knocked out," she wrote in her memoir The Tenth Muse (2007). "This was the book I'd been searching for."

This was also the book that Child, with co-authors Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, had spent six years trying to shorten for an editor at Houghton Mifflin.

Child worried that the book "was unpublishable", she wrote in her own memoir, My Life In France (2006). "Maybe the editors were right. After all, there probably weren't many people like me who liked to fuss around in the kitchen."

Jones spent months trying the recipes before deciding the book must see the light of day. The book sold millions of copies and Child became a TV star, culinary treasure and household name.

Jones' love affair with food can be traced to the time she graduated in 1945 from Bennington College in Vermont. She returned to New York to work in publishing before a vacation in Europe turned into a full-time move to Paris.

At 27, working as a "girl Friday" at Doubleday in Paris, she was tasked one day in 1950 with filing rejected submissions. She came across an advance copy of the French edition of the Frank book. "I read it all day. When my boss returned, I told him, we have to publish this book," she told the Jewish Chronicle in 2009.

Early in her Paris years, she was an assistant to Mr Evan Jones, who edited a magazine aimed at American tourists. They wed in 1951, eventually settling in New York.Her husband died in 1996.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2017, with the headline 'Editor published Julia Child'. Print Edition | Subscribe