“After more than 50 years in publishing, Judith Jones has earned a reputation as a master of cookbooks. Among the many works that fill her dossier as an editor is Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1960), which gave post-war Americans something different from meatloaf and tuna casserole.
Jones confesses that she has always loved cooking, so it’s no surprise that much of her legacy as senior editor and vice president at Knopf fills millions of kitchen shelves around the world. But all of these cookbooks merely overshadow what is arguably her most important contribution to the world of literature–one that she made at the beginning of her career.
“It was around 1950, and I was in Paris working for Doubleday as an assistant to Frank Price, who the company had sent over to scout titles,” Jones recalls. “Our office was a rather beautiful apartment on the rue de la Faisanderie, and one afternoon, Frank went off to a lunch appointment and left me with a pile of manuscripts for rejection. He wanted me to write the letters and send them off.”
So, Jones began typing the letters for one manuscript after another, when the pile revealed something that caught her eye. A 12-year-old girl with thick, black hair, chestnut eyes, and a bright smile gazed back at her from the cover of a French translation entitled The Diary of a Young Girl.
Even in black and white, the girl’s face radiated a warmth and innocence that Jones could not ignore. Instead of reaching for another sheet of Doubleday letterhead, on which she had written the other rejections, she opened the book and began reading.
Jones soon found herself immersed in the world of Annelies Marie Frank, a Jewish girl living with her mother, father, and sister in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. For her 13th birthday, Anne’s father, Otto, gave her a plaid-covered journal in which she began her diary…”