Julie Powell, bestselling author of ‘Julie & Julia,’ dies at 49
Julie Powell was 49 years old when she died on March 5 at her home in San Francisco. She grew up in Santa Cruz, and met her husband, writer Jeffrey Eugenides in the late 1960s while helping out at a hippie commune in New York’s Haight-Ashbury.
During the ’60s she co-produced and performed a series of shows with Eugenides at Off-Broadway’s The Public Theater, where they had starred in Julie and Julia, the one-woman show about food and its discontents.
The two met again the following year when Eugenides was on tour in California, and Powell invited him to dinner. They were married in 1967, and over the next decade Powell became part of a network of writers and artists who connected with her through a small press, the Berkeley-based PEN.
That network has now become the foundation for Eugenides’ new book Julie and Julia, which debuted in bookstores in early March.
Eugenides made public his surprise and delight at receiving the 2017 National Book Award for fiction for the memoir “Angels in America.” Powell had been one of the only people invited to accept the honor.
“When they announced that I was going to receive it, I was thrilled,” she said. “But I wasn’t surprised, because, as one of the few writers invited, I was expecting it. I was expecting it, and I was ready for it.”
Powell’s daughter, Rachelle, told NPR that her mother believed the N.Y.A.F.I.A. had “fooled” her into believing it was a “grievance” award. The literary group didn’t make the announcement until after Powell’s death, and she had been ill with pneumonia for a while. “I think she had that perspective, having been in the literary community and having actually suffered a loss of her mother,” said Rachelle.
It was a small consolation prize for Powell, who had already earned a Pulitzer in 1991 for her