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US editor who ‘rescued’ Anne Frank’s diary dies at 93

Judith Jones, the legendary editor who rescued Anne Frank’s diary from a US publisher’s rejection pile, died on August 2.

books Updated: Aug 03, 2017 16:41 IST
Agence France-Presse
Judith Jones,Judith Jones death,Anne Frank
Jones won five Pulitzer Prizes, five National Book Awards and three National Book Critics Circle Awards, and her cookbook authors won dozens and dozens of prizes.(Photo courtesy: judithjonescooks.com)

She was 93. Jones, a luminary of the publishing world, also introduced the world to American culinary writer Julia Child, and was close to literary giants such as John Updike, Anne Tyler, William Maxwell, John Hersey, Peter Taylor and Sharon Olds.

She passed away at her home in Vermont, the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group said in a statement. She worked for Knopf for more than 50 years, joining the company in 1957 and officially retiring only in 2011.

“Judith was a legend in book publishing,” said Sonny Mehta, chairman and editor-in-chief, paying tribute to the once young assistant who rescued Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl from a rejection pile in Paris.

The diary, which the young Jewish girl had written while hiding from the Nazis between June 1942 and August 1944, is one of the most famous testimonies of life in World War II and one of the most famous diaries of all time.

The first US edition of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl ran a modest 5,000 copies and contained a preface from former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Doubleday reputedly spent little on publicity, but sales quickly took off. Worldwide, the diary has sold more than 30 million copies in 67 languages.

A sharp-eyed editor, Jones was also a writer herself. She wrote several cookbooks, some with her late husband Evan Jones, including her first title, Knead It, Punch It, Bake It!: Make Your Own Bread, published in 1981 for kids.

She penned cookery volumes with outdoor retailer LL Bean on how to cook game and fish, and New England cuisine. Following the death of her husband in 1996, Jones explored The Pleasures of Cooking for One, which was published in 2009.

The couple did not have children, but Jones had a Scottish terrier, poodle, and a Havanese pup through the years. Her final book, Love Me, Feed Me: Sharing with Your Dog the Everyday Good Food You Cook and Enjoy, was published in 2014 and offers over 50 recipes that both dog and man can enjoy, like salmon cakes, wild mushroom risotto and shepherd’s pie.

About a decade ago, Jones wrote a memoir tracing her life in Paris after the Second World War when she discovered the wonders of French cuisine. The book also chronicles her subsequent decades working as an editor for Knopf, where she was instrumental in shaping the modern world of cookbook publishing.

Jones was also instrumental in persuading Alfred Knopf to publish Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 1961. The tome introduced generations of American home cooks to French food and to the now legendary chef Julia Child.

“It is no exaggeration to say that she profoundly influenced not only the way America reads and but also the way we cook,” Mehta said on Wednesday.

Jones won five Pulitzer Prizes, five National Book Awards and three National Book Critics Circle Awards, and her cookbook authors won dozens and dozens of prizes, said Knopf Doubleday.

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First Published: Aug 03, 2017 13:52 IST