Jill Norman has a degree in French and Spanish from King’s College, London. She became an editor, then editorial director at Penguin Books with responsibility for the Penguin Classics and non-fiction books in the fields of education, social sciences, environmental studies, business and management. She wrote the Penguin Phrasebooks and created the Penguin food and wine list.
While developing the list she learned to appreciate and to cook the foods of many parts of the world. This led to travels in pursuit of food and drink, and a passion to discover the origins of herbs and spices and how they are used. She is acknowledged internationally as an authority on herbs and spices, has written articles for many journals and updated Encyclopedia Britannica’s online herb and spice entries.
In 1991 she was awarded a travelling fellowship to Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador to study New World foods in their original environment.In the same year she was awarded the Glenfiddich trophy for her ‘major contribution to food and drink publishing’.
Jill’s books on food and cooking have been widely translated and won awards in many countries. Her interests also extend to wine and she talks and writes on food and wine pairing and on travels through wine lands.
During her time at Penguin Books Jill worked closely with Elizabeth David and is literary trustee of the Elizabeth David Estate. She has compiled collections of Elizabeth David’s unpublished work and two illustrated anthologies: At Elizabeth David’s Table and Elizabeth David on Vegetables, the latter to mark the centenary of Elizabeth’s birth.
She moved on to be managing director of Jill Norman, a small non-fiction publishing house, and later became a publishing consultant to Dorling Kindersley and to Random House, UK. During this period, she also produced an award-winning series of cookery books for Sainsburys.
In the nineties she spend six years as human resources director at the European Patent Office in The Hague, Holland, with particular emphasis on restructuring the organization, staff training and career development.
She was a founder-member of the London Slow Food Convivium and of the Oxford Food Symposium, of which she became a trustee and to which she is a regular contributor. She is also a trustee of the Jane Grigson Trust and a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food. She has recorded her life story for the National Sound Archive at the British Library.