Judith Jones, editor of Julia Child, dead at 93

2017-08-02 20:19
Judith Jones delivers her acceptance speech after she received the lifetime achievement award during the 2006 James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony, in New York. (AP Photo Richard Drew, File)

Judith Jones delivers her acceptance speech after she received the lifetime achievement award during the 2006 James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony, in New York. (AP Photo Richard Drew, File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York — Judith Jones, a consummate literary editor who helped revolutionise American cuisine by publishing Julia Child and other groundbreaking cookbook authors, worked for decades with John Updike and Anne Tyler and helped introduce English-language readers to "The Diary of Anne Frank," has died at age 93.

Jones, who spent more than 50 years at Alfred A. Knopf before retiring in 2011, died early on Wednesday at her summer home in Walden, Vermont. Her stepdaughter, Bronwyn Dunne, said she died of complications from Alzheimer's.

Few better embodied and lived out the ideal of a life in New York publishing than the slender, refined Jones, whom Tyler once praised, both a person and as an editor, as "very delicate and graceful, almost weightless." Jones worked at one of the leading publishing houses with some of the world's most beloved authors. She thrived even as Knopf evolved from a family-run business to part of the international conglomerate Bertelsmann AG.

Moviegoers would learn about her in "Julie & Julia," the 2009 film starring Meryl Streep as Child and featuring Erin Dilly as Jones. In the early '60s, she signed up the then-unknown Child and "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," a landmark release that caught on again decades later thanks to "Julie & Julia." Tyler, however, thought the movie "stupid" because of a scene in which Jones backs out of a dinner at an author's home because it's raining.

"Judith Jones would go through a blizzard," Tyler told The Associated Press in 2012. "She's the most indomitable person."

Jones was herself an author and gourmet. She collaborated on several cookbooks with her husband Evan Jones, contributed to numerous food magazines and wrote the memoir "The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food," published in 2007. In 2006, she received the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, a fitting prize for Jones, who published Beard and was a close friend.

The daughter of an attorney, Jones was born Judith Bailey in 1924 and grew up in Manhattan. She majored in English at Bennington College, worked as an editorial assistant at Doubleday while still in school and in her early 20s was a reader for Doubleday in Paris. Among her early achievements was finding a masterpiece amid the rejects: "The Diary of Anne Frank."

"One day my boss said, 'Oh, will you get rid of these books and write some letters. He went off to have some lunch with some French publishers," she explained in a 2001 interview with The Associated Press.

"I curled up with one or two books. I was just curious. I think it was the face on the cover. I looked at that face and I started reading that book and I didn't stop all afternoon. I was in tears when my boss came back. I said, 'This book is going to New York and has got to be published.' And he said, 'What? That book by that kid?!'"

Jones joined Knopf in 1957 as a reader of French translations. The company, run by founders Alfred and Blanche Knopf, was eccentric, old-fashioned, where women were warned against attending meetings because strong language might be used. She soon became an editor, her early clients including John Hersey, Elizabeth Bowen and a promising young author named John Updike. His first book with Knopf was "Rabbit, Run."

"Alfred got on the telephone with John and said, 'You'd better come right away.' He said to me, 'I don't think you should attend the meeting; the language may be a little raw.' Of course, I had seen the language," Jones said. "We did an expurgated edition and every subsequent printing put a little bit back and now it's all there."

Jones was among the first to realize that World War II soldiers returning from Europe might be ready for more sophisticated cuisine. Jones herself was admittedly spoiled by the food in Paris. In the 1950s, she found the bread in New York so tasteless she baked her own at home.

Jones' most famous discovery was Child, a middle-aged American chef in the early '60s who, like Jones, had returned to the states after living for years in Paris. She and co-authors Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle were seeking a publisher for a cookbook (later titled by Jones "Mastering the Art of French Cooking") which had been rejected by Houghton Mifflin. As recounted in her memoir, Jones was soon convinced that "this was the book I been looking for" and thought Child's recipe for "boeuf bourguignon" worthy of the best dishes in Paris.

"I myself learned to cook from 'Mastering,'" she later wrote. "I wanted my food to have the French touch, to taste 'soignee,' not just indifferently cooked. But there was no book that really taught me how, that is, not until 'Mastering' came along."

Jones became the country's gateway to international and national cuisine. Jones edited Marcella Hazan's "The Classic Italian Cookbook," which did the same for Italian food as Child's book did for French. Other chefs Jones worked with included pioneers in California cuisine (Alice Waters), Middle Eastern food (Claudia Roden) and cooking from the American South (Edna Lewis).

Jones' husband died in 1996. They had two children and two stepchildren. In recent years, she kept a blog, judithjonescooks.com, and wrote the book "The Pleasures of Cooking for One."

Read more on:    judith jones

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Weird things dogs do

Caught your dog doing something... well a little bit odd? Don’t worry, there’s a simple explanation for his behaviour.

 
 

Paws

Makeover saves dog’s life
For the love of Corgis!
Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.