Julie Powell, the writer behind the popular food blog which led to the Meryl Streep film Julie & Julia, has died at age 49.
Powell was well-known for her blog, the Julie/Julia Project, which documented her year making every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and went on to inspire the 2009 film.
Powell’s husband, Eric, told The New York Times that his wife died of cardiac arrest at their home in upstate New York on October 26.
Her blog came from a time in her life when she was about to turn 30 and found herself in “one of those panicked, backed-into-a-corner kind of moments,” she told the Times in an interview.
That’s when she created her blog with an intention to make all 524 recipes in Child’s 1961 cookbook.
Readers resonated with the quirky and self-deprecating tone Powell took with her blog entries.
“We have a medium where we can type in the snarky comments we used to just say out loud to our friends,” Powell said in a 2009 interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
The blog, which was published on Salon.com, reached 400,000 total page views with many readers invested in whether or not Powell would complete the task of cooking through the book before her self-imposed deadline.
Powell’s blog was eventually turned into a book, called Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen.
The book sold more than 1million copies under its paperback title: Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously.
The 2009 film – which starred Streep as Julia Child, Stanley Tucci as her husband, Paul, and Amy Adams as Powell – also shot Child’s cookbook to the best-seller list for the first time.
Powell held a degree in theater and fiction writing from Amherst College.
She also wrote a second book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession, which was published in 2009.
Her second book also wound up being her last.
Powell continued to write, according to her obituary, and often shared her thoughts and feelings – including her bouts with depression – on Twitter.
But her editor, Judy Clain, told the Times: “She had so much talent and emotional intelligence.”
“I only wish she could have found the next thing.”
She is survived by her husband and her parents.
TRIBUTES POUR IN
Many fans have taken to social media to share tributes to Powell.
“Terrible news. Julie and I had been friends since freshman year in college and though I hadn’t seen her in a while, she always held a special spot in my heart. May her memory be a blessing,” wrote Times editor Dan Saltzstein.
“Very sad to learn today of Julie’s passing. I looked forward to reading her take on things. Rest In Peace. To all her family my deepest condolences,” one person tweeted.
“I remember with alarming clarity what it felt like to find Julie Powell’s blog in the mid-2000s, when I was bored and frustrated and not writing what I wanted to; she made things feel possible in a way I had not seen them before. I’m so sad about this news,” tweeted another.
“So very very sorry to see you go so soon. I know you struggled and thrived both, but your no b******t truth meant so much to me even though we never met. I hope it’s quiet there,” another wrote.
“Oh my. This is shocking news. I literally just ordered @licjulie’s book, Julie & Julia, from an online used bookstore back in August. Too young,” someone else chimed in.
“I’ve loved Julia Child for decades. And I have admired Julie Powell since I discovered her through the movie, Julie and Julia. This must be such a shock to her family and friends. Safe travels, brave soul, and prayers for those who will miss you,” wrote another.