Judith Jones (born 1924) worked for more than 50 years as a literary and cookbook editor collaborating with dozens of renowned authors. Jones is known for having rescued the The Diary of Anne Frank from the reject pile. Jones also championed Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She retired as senior editor and vice president at Alfred A. Knopf in 2011. Jones is also a cookbook author and has written memoirs. Jones has won multiple lifetime achievement awards, including the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
Jones joined Knopf in 1957 as an assistant to Blanche Knopf and editor working mainly on translations of French writers such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. Before that she worked for Doubleday, first in New York City and then in Paris, where she read and recommended The Diary of Anne Frank, pulling it out of the rejection pile. Jones recalled that she came across Frank's work in a slush pile of material that had been rejected by other publishers; she was struck by a photo of the girl on the cover of an advance copy of the French edition. "I read it all day," she noted. "When my boss returned, I told him, 'We have to publish this book.' He said, 'What? That book by that kid?'" She brought the diary to the attention of Doubleday's New York office. "I made the book quite important because I was so taken with it, and I felt it would have a real market in America. It’s one of those seminal books that will never be forgotten," Jones said.
Jones's relationship with Julia Child similarly began when Jones became interested in a manuscript that had been rejected by another publishing house. After her years in Paris, Jones had moved to New York, where she was frustrated with the ingredients and recipes commonly available in the US. She tested Child's recipes and decided: "This was the book I had been searching for." In America's postwar years, home cooking was dominated by packaged and frozen food, with an emphasis on ease and speed.
After the success of Child's cookbook, Jones continued to expand the resource options for American home cooks. "I got so excited by Julia's book and what it did for making people better cooks, and the tools that you needed to make it really work in an American city or small town, and I thought, If we could do this for French food, for heavens' sake, let's start doing it for other exotic cuisines!" Jones recalled. "I used the word "exotic," and that meant the Middle East with Claudia Roden, it meant better Indian cooking with Madhur Jaffrey."
Major culinary authors Jones has brought into print include Julia Child, Lidia Bastianich, James Beard, Marion Cunningham, Rosie Daley, Edward Giobbi, Marcella Hazan, Madhur Jaffrey, Edna Lewis, Joan Nathan, Scott Peacock, Jacques Pépin, Claudia Roden, and Nina Simonds. The 18-book Knopf Cooks American series was Jones' creation.
She is also the longtime editor of literary authors John Updike, Anne Tyler, John Hersey, Elizabeth Bowen, Peter Taylor and William Maxwell. Other major literary authors who were edited by Jones include Langston Hughes, Albert Camus, and Jean-Paul Sartre.
Jones wrote three books with her husband Evan, and has written three on her own since his death: one on cooking for one person; a memoir of her life and food; and a cookbook for food that can be shared with dogs.
“Learning to like cooking alone is an ongoing process. But the alternative is worse.”
"For a long time, the women — and they were usually women — who wrote about food were treated as second-class citizens. All because they cook! I think that's opened up. A good writer gets some good assignments, and they're treated better somehow. It just takes time."
Jones lived in Paris after college, where she met her husband and collaborator, Evan Jones. Evan Jones died in 1996. The couple had no children.
- Knead It, Punch It, Bake It!: Make Your Own Bread, with Evan Jones, illustrated by Lauren Jarrett (for children, Thomas Y. Crowell Co., October 1981)
- The Book of Bread, with Evan Jones (Harper & Row, 1982)
- The L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook, with Angus Cameron, illustrated by Bill Elliott (Random House, October 12, 1983)
- The L.L. Bean Book of New New England Cookery, with Evan Jones (Random House, October 12, 1987) (reprinted as The Book of New New England Cookery, illustrated by Lauren Jarrett, in paperback by UPNE, April 1, 2001) ISBN 1584651318
- The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food (Knopf, October 23, 2007)
- The Pleasures of Cooking for One (Knopf, September 29, 2009)
- Love Me, Feed Me: Sharing with Your Dog the Everyday Good Food You Cook and Enjoy (Knopf, October 28, 2014)
- (1985) Who's Who of Food & Beverage James Beard Award
- (2006) James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award
Cookbooks written or edited by Judith Jones that received James Beard Awards:
- (1983) The Book of Bread by Judith Jones and Evan Jones. Award: Single Subject.
- (1993) Peppers a Story of Hot Pursuits by Amal Naj and edited by Judith Jones. Award: Writing on Food
- (1995) Jewish Cooking in America by Joan Nathan and edited by Judith Jones. Award: Food of the Americas
- (2000) Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home by Julia Child, Jacques Pepin and edited by Judith Jones. Award: General
- (2000) A Spoonful of Ginger by Nina Simonds and edited by Judith Jones. Award: Healthy Focus
- (2002) Jacques Pepin Celebrates by Jacques Pepin and edited by Judith Jones. Award: Entertaining & Special Occasions
- (2006) The New American Cooking by Joan Nathan and edited by Judith Jones. Award: Food of the Americas
- (2006) Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health by Nina Simonds and edited by Judith Jones. Award: Healthy Focus
- Tabachnick, Toby (2009). "The editor who didn't pass on Anne Frank; Jones recalls famous diary". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved April 2, 2016 – via Firefox.
- Raising Steaks, Christine Muhlke, NY Times September 24, 2009
- "A Century of Alfred A. Knopf". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
- Swanson, Clare (15 May 2015). "A Century of Alfred A. Knopf". Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
- Barnes and Noble biography of Judith Jones
- Steel, Tanya. "A Conversation with Judith Jones". Epicurious. Conde Nast. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
- Druckman, Charlotte (September 23, 2016). "Judith Jones, In Her Own Words". Eater. Vox Media. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
- Jones, Judith (2009). The Pleasures of Cooking for One. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 275. ISBN 978-0-307-27072-6.
- Star Chef's bio of Judith Jones
- "An Editing Life, a Book of Her Own" , Julia Moskin, NY Times, October 24, 2007
- Moskin, 2007
- Druckman, Charlotte (September 23, 2015). "Judith Jones, In Her Own Words". Eater. Vox Media. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
- "Awards Search | James Beard Foundation". www.jamesbeard.org. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
- Judith Jones' Blog
- "Judith Jones reads from Tenth Muse" on NPR , January 8, 2008
- Lecture Review: "Knopf editor Judith Jones charms audience", Tuesday, April 7, 2009, by Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette