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Bracken, Peg 1918-2007 (Emily Bracken, Ruth Eleanor Bracken)

Bracken, Peg 1918-2007 (Emily Bracken, Ruth Eleanor Bracken)


See index for CA sketch: Born February 25, 1918, in Filer, ID; died of pulmonary fibrosis, October 20, 2007, in Portland, OR. Cookbook author, advertising executive, and copywriter. What most people remember about Peg Bracken is her antipathy for domesticity in general and cooking in particular, which she expressed with liberal garnishes of sarcasm. When she first attempted to publish The I Hate to Cook Book in 1960, it reportedly was passed on by six male editors before a female editor recognized its potential. The book and its sequels eventually sold millions of copies and propelled the author into the national spotlight. Bracken became a popular speaker and guest on American talk shows, promoting her minimalist approach to cooking and her unrepentant views on housekeeping, etiquette, travel, and other topics. She was the coauthor of the cartoon "Phoebe, Get Your Man," and she wrote articles for many other popular magazines, including Cosmopolitan, Ladies' Home Journal, and the Saturday Evening Post. Bracken's forays into the kitchen were born of necessity, endured with as much good humor as possible, and completed at maximum speed. Her appreciative readers were likely to be working women with little time to spare or survivors of the 1950s who were beginning to realize that dedicated housewifery need not be the ultimate career goal. She promoted the use of canned, processed, prepared, and frozen foods, which were part of a fledgling industry at the outset of her campaign, and eventually she became a spokesperson for Birds Eye frozen foods. Bracken cheerfully rejected the formal, meticulous methods of the grand masters of the culinary arts, such as James Beard and Julia Child, but she was perfectly happy to adopt their terminology if it would add a glaze of elegance to an otherwise simple meal. On the other hand, she was not above creating her own terminology for dishes like Aggression Cookies and Skid Road Stroganoff. Bracken had begun her writing career in advertising, where she worked as a copywriter and executive in the 1950s. Afterward she wrote several cookbooks and other volumes, including I Try to Behave Myself (1964), I Didn't Come Here to Argue (1970), and But I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World (1973). Her last book, On Getting Old for the First Time (1997), written with her fictitious alter ego, Emily Bracken, contains not only essays, but also her own illustrations and whimsical rhymes.



Bracken, Peg, A Window over the Sink, Harcourt, Brace & World (New York, NY), 1981.

Bracken, Peg, and Emily Bracken, On Getting Old for the First Time, BookPartners (Wilsonville, OR), 1997.


Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2007, p. B6.

New York Times, October 23, 2007, p. C11.

Times (London, England), November 3, 2007, p. 75.

Washington Post, October 23, 2007, p. B8.

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