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Early Rejection for 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking'

August 1, 2013—Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (written with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle) was rejected by publisher Houghton Mifflin. Paul Brooks, editor-in-chief at Houghton Mifflin, wrote to the authors in a letter dated October 6, 1959: “It is a big, expensive cookbook of elaborate information and might well prove formidable to the American housewife. She might easily clip one of these recipes out of a magazine but be frightened of the book as a whole.” He then suggests Doubleday as a possible alternative publisher and expresses interest in reviewing a “smaller, simpler version.” Indeed, the manuscript Brooks rejected was an edited version with simpler, shorter recipes on which Child, Beck and Bertholle had worked for about a year.
Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume 1 was published by Knopf in 1961 and is credited, along with Child’s television program, The French Chef, with revolutionizing American cooking. Volume 2 was published in 1970 by Knopf, written by Child and Beck but not Bertholle.