She Discovered Anne Frank Diary in Pile of Rejected Books

Judith Jones was a consummate literary editor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 2, 2017 11:49 AM CDT
The Woman Who Brought Julia Child to America Has Died
In this May 8, 2006, file photo, editor Judith Jones delivers her acceptance speech after she received the lifetime achievement award during the 2006 James Beard Foundation Awards ceremony in New York.   (Richard Drew)

You may not know her name, but you know plenty of names because of her. Judith Jones, a consummate literary editor who helped revolutionize American cuisine by publishing Julia Child, has died at age 93. Jones, who spent more than 50 years at Alfred A. Knopf before retiring in 2011, died early Wednesday at her summer home in Walden, Vt., 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 author Anne Tyler once praised, both as a person and as an editor, as "very delicate and graceful, almost weightless." 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, reports the AP.

Child 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) that had been rejected by Houghton Mifflin. As recounted in her memoir, Jones was soon convinced that "this was the book [I'd] been looking for" and thought Child's recipe for "boeuf bourguignon" worthy of the best dishes in Paris. Another achievement was finding a masterpiece amid the rejects: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. "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 2001. "I curled up with one or two books. I was just curious. I think it was the face on the cover. 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?!'" (More obituary stories.)

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