In 2011, at the Key West Literary Seminar “The Language of Food,” Dick and I met Judith Jones. Judith, along with many other food luminaries, was there to discuss the changing attitudes toward food in America over the past 50 years. For Judith Jones, Julia Child played a seminal role in this transformation.
Judith worked at Alfred A. Knoph for 50 years. While a young editor living in Paris in the 1950s, Judith was lucky enough to have a giant manuscript come across her desk. The tome was the work of Julia Child, and it would eventually become the hugely successful Mastering the Art of French Cooking, thanks in large part to Judith Jones’s faith in the book along with her editing skills.
Another book that added to the young Ms. Jones’s lore was a short journal that had been translated from Dutch to French. Buried deep in a pile of rejected books was the diary of a young Holocaust victim: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl.
“One day, my boss went off to lunch with his fellow editors, and left me with a pile of stuff,” said Jones, now senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf publishers, where she has worked since 1957. As she was going through the pile, “I came to this lovely face,” she recalled. It was the photograph of Anne Frank gracing the cover of the advance copy of the French edition of the book that caught Jones’ eye, and bid her to begin reading.
“I read it all day,” she said. “When my boss returned, I told him, ‘We have to publish this book.’ He said, ‘What? That book by that kid?’”