In Memoriam, Alumni News

Remembering Judith Jones: An Audacious Life

Judith Jones '45, longtime editor at Alfred A. Knopf, who championed the Diary of Anne Frank and the publication of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, has died. She was 93. 

Remembering Judith Jones

Jones studied literature while she was at Bennington College. She had a NRT (non-resident term) placement as an editorial assistant at Doubleday while still in school. At Knopf, she worked on some of the most renowned cookbooks of the past 50 years. At the time of her retirement in 2011, she was senior editor and vice president of the publishing house.

She is known for having rescued The Diary of Anne Frank from the reject pile while she was an editor at Doubleday, and at Knopf introduced the world to legendary food writers such as Julia Child, James Beard, Marcella Hazan, and Madhur Jaffrey. In addition, she worked with notable literary authors including John Updike, Ann Tyler, Langston Hughes, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and many others.

Bennington taught me to live an audacious life. –Judith Jones

An article in The Daily Times, "We'll take Jones over 'the mooch' in a New York minute," recalled her role as a culture-shaper of the New York literary scene, in "a time when fame lasted more than a New York minute." "There was a time when New Yorkers were Manhattan sophisticates, literate people to admire, persons infused with understated self-confidence, consummate professionals worthy of emulation. Few of us ever met one, but images on the silver screen set a certain standard. Never mind that those actors came not from New York but all across America. They were portrayers of style, actual class. Judith Jones didn’t portray the image, she lived it."

She is also an author herself, having coauthored three books with her late husband Evan Jones and three of her own. The most recent of these, Love MeFeed Me: Sharing With Your Dog the Everyday Good Food You Cook and Enjoy, was published in 2014. She is the winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jones on discovering The Diary of Ann Frank [excerpted from a 2001 AP interview]:

"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'...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?!'"

Read more about Jones' life and impact in The New York Timesthe LA Times, and NPR