Rombauer, Irma

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Rombauer, Irma (1877–1962) author of one of the best-loved and most used American cookbooks of any period, The Joy of Cooking. The child of a family of German origin in St Louis, Missouri, she came to cookbook writing in an incidental way, following the death of her husband. Her first book was published at her own expense in 1931 and was not transmuted into a commercial publication until 1936. Full success came in 1943 and thereafter the book became a best-seller. Anne Mendelson (1996) has provided a brilliant history of the book and its author, and of her daughter Marion Rombauer Becker, who was co-author from 1951 and then solely responsible after her mother’s death in 1962. She reckons that total hardback sales of the book from 1931 to 1996 amounted to almost 10 million copies. It seems likely that a comparable number of paperback copies have been sold.