46 min

Sara B. Franklin on the Life of Unsung Hero Judith Jones, Book Editor for Anne Frank and Julia Child Whose Influence Profoundly Shaped American Culture I'd Rather Be Reading

    • Books

You may not know the name Judith Jones, but you’ve certainly felt this dynamic woman’s impact and influence on culture. Judith Jones was the editor behind books like The Diary of Anne Frank and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child; she was also behind authors like Sylvia Plath, John Updike, Langston Hughes, Sharon Olds, and so many others. Her work, as our guest today writes in her new book, was “unrivaled in the industry.” Book editors are kind of shadow figures—they’re behind-the-scenes, unsung heroes, who, as Sara B. Franklin writes in her book The Editor: How Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America, which came out on May 28, are people who “work in the service of their authors, not themselves, and their touch is meant to be difficult, if not impossible, for readers to see”—a bit of an invisible hand, if you will. Judith Jones rose through the ranks of publishing when it was very much an industry still dominated by men; one of her gifts was the ability to see talent in women writers, especially women writers many had overlooked. It’s hard to believe that, for example, publishers weren’t chomping at the bit for the works of Anne Frank or Julia Child, but they weren’t; it was Judith who saw their books through to the finish line. She is most associated with cookbooks, and Sara writes that Judith may never have fully gotten the respect she so deserved because “books about food were (and to some extent still are) treated with an air of condescension by the literary world.” Sara and I talk about that on the show today, as well as topics like Judith’s portrayal in the 2009 Nora Ephron film Julie & Julia—which Judith didn’t like so much—and some of Judith’s misses, like with the aforementioned Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar. Through Sara’s book, Judith emerges from the shadows to the spotlight—the amount of passion and dedication Sara put into this bestselling book is remarkable. I can’t wait for you to meet Sara and, through her, meet Judith. A little about Sara: she is a writer, teacher, and oral historian who teaches courses on food, writing, embodied culture, and oral history at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. In addition to writing The Editor, she also edited Edna Lewis, co-authored The Phenicia Diner Cookbook, and holds a PhD in food studies from NYU and studied documentary storytelling at both the Duke Center for Documentary Studies and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Take a listen to our conversation.

 

The Editor: How Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America by Sara B. Franklin

You may not know the name Judith Jones, but you’ve certainly felt this dynamic woman’s impact and influence on culture. Judith Jones was the editor behind books like The Diary of Anne Frank and Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child; she was also behind authors like Sylvia Plath, John Updike, Langston Hughes, Sharon Olds, and so many others. Her work, as our guest today writes in her new book, was “unrivaled in the industry.” Book editors are kind of shadow figures—they’re behind-the-scenes, unsung heroes, who, as Sara B. Franklin writes in her book The Editor: How Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America, which came out on May 28, are people who “work in the service of their authors, not themselves, and their touch is meant to be difficult, if not impossible, for readers to see”—a bit of an invisible hand, if you will. Judith Jones rose through the ranks of publishing when it was very much an industry still dominated by men; one of her gifts was the ability to see talent in women writers, especially women writers many had overlooked. It’s hard to believe that, for example, publishers weren’t chomping at the bit for the works of Anne Frank or Julia Child, but they weren’t; it was Judith who saw their books through to the finish line. She is most associated with cookbooks, and Sara writes that Judith may never have fully gotten the respect she so deserved because “books about food were (and to some extent still are) treated with an air of condescension by the literary world.” Sara and I talk about that on the show today, as well as topics like Judith’s portrayal in the 2009 Nora Ephron film Julie & Julia—which Judith didn’t like so much—and some of Judith’s misses, like with the aforementioned Sylvia Plath and The Bell Jar. Through Sara’s book, Judith emerges from the shadows to the spotlight—the amount of passion and dedication Sara put into this bestselling book is remarkable. I can’t wait for you to meet Sara and, through her, meet Judith. A little about Sara: she is a writer, teacher, and oral historian who teaches courses on food, writing, embodied culture, and oral history at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. In addition to writing The Editor, she also edited Edna Lewis, co-authored The Phenicia Diner Cookbook, and holds a PhD in food studies from NYU and studied documentary storytelling at both the Duke Center for Documentary Studies and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Take a listen to our conversation.

 

The Editor: How Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America by Sara B. Franklin

46 min