The Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America (Hardcover)

The Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America By Sara B. Franklin Cover Image

The Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America (Hardcover)


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Legendary editor Judith Jones, the woman behind some of the most important authors of the 20th century—including Julia Child, Anne Frank, Edna Lewis, John Updike, and Sylvia Plath—finally gets her due in this intimate biography.

When twenty-five-year-old Judith Jones began working as a secretary at Doubleday’s Paris office in 1949, she spent most of her time wading through manuscripts in the slush pile and passing on projects—until one day, a book caught her eye. She read it in one sitting, then begged her boss to consider publishing it. A year later, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl became a bestseller. It was the start of a culture-defining career in publishing.

During her more than fifty years as an editor at Knopf, Jones nurtured the careers of literary icons such as Sylvia Plath, Anne Tyler, and John Updike, and helped launched new genres and trends in literature. At the forefront of the cookbook revolution, she published the who’s who of food writing: Edna Lewis, M.F.K. Fisher, Claudia Roden, Madhur Jaffrey, James Beard, and, most famously, Julia Child. Through her quiet and tenacious work behind the scenes, Jones helped turn these authors into household names, changing cultural mores and expectations along the way.

Judith’s work spanned decades of America’s most dramatic cultural change—from the end of World War II through the Cold War, from the civil rights movement to the fight for women’s equality—and the books she published acted as tools of quiet resistance. Now, her astonishing career is explored for the first time. Based on exclusive interviews, never-before-seen personal papers, and years of research, The Editor tells the riveting behind-the-scenes narrative of how stories are made, finally bringing to light the audacious life of one of our most influential tastemakers.
Sara B. Franklin is a writer, teacher, and oral historian. She received a 2020–2021 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Public Scholars grant for her research on Judith Jones, and teaches courses on food, writing, embodied culture, and oral history at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She is the author of The Editor, the editor of Edna Lewis, and coauthor of The Phoenicia Diner Cookbook. She 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. She lives with her children in Kingston, New York. Find out more at

Product Details ISBN: 9781982134341
ISBN-10: 1982134348
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: May 28th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English
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“A thorough and humanizing portrait.” —Kirkus

The Editor retrieves Jones from the margins of publishing history and affirms her essential role in shaping the postwar cultural landscape, from fiction to cooking and beyond.” —The Millions

“Sara B. Franklin pulls back the curtain and casts a penetrating light on Judith Jones, a consummate editor, a connoisseur of food and fiction, a sophisticated, determined, and secret force who worked in publishing for half-a-century, cooking up and shaping so many books that shaped us. The Editor is a surprising, granular, luminous, and path-breaking biography.” –Edward Hirsch, critic and bestselling author of How to Read a Poem

“Judith Jones has, at long last, found a worthy biographer in Sara B. Franklin. Her kaleidoscopic portrait of Jones, anchored in deep research but written with crisp clarity, honors every complication of Jones's character without losing sight of the remarkable imprint she left on America’s literary landscape—far beyond the realm of food.” –Mayukh Sen, author of Taste Makers

“Through her editorial work, Judith Jones changed the perception of what it meant to be a woman who cooks. Through The Editor, Sara B. Franklin gives shape and weight to a career that could have continued on as a footnote; in doing so, she proves Jones was too good and influential to live on like that.” –Alicia Kennedy, author of No Meat Required