Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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There are 2 entries for this date: Maria Deraismes and Julia Child
Maria Deraismes

Maria Deraismes

On this date in 1828 or 1835 *, Maria Deraismes was born in France. Educated in Paris, Maria was given more educational opportunities than most young women of her era. She wrote a collection of dramatic sketches that were published in 1861, and turned her hand to comedies. She became one of the founding members of the feminist movement in France. Deraismes welcomed participants to the first French Women's Congress, held in 1878, and was president of the Society for the Improvement of the Condition of Women. She made a famous rebuttal to the misogynist labeling of women intellectuals as "bluestockings." A rationalist, she was the first woman Freemason in France, and directed several freethought societies. She was a co-presider of the Anti-Clerical Congress in Paris in 1881. The town square of St. Nazaire is reputedly named for her. D. 1894.

 

* Several sources disagree.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Julia Child

Julia Child

On this date in 1912, Julia Child, nee McWilliams, became the first-born child of heiress Dorothy Weston McWillams and Princeton grad and investor John McWilliams, Jr. Julia inherited the Weston family height — topping 6 foot three, and the Weston "hoot" — a product of unusually long vocal chords. She did not inherit her father's arch-conservatism. Biographer Bob Spitz writes: "Conformity: There wasn't so much as a trace of it in her DNA." Julia went to the Katharine Branson School in 1927, and rebelled against requirements that students attend church and carry a bible to school. "Even as a teenager, Julia was outspoken in her attitude toward religion. 'She thought it was rot,' says a family member familiar with her beliefs," according to Spitz. A Democrat, she once swore she would never vote for a Catholic, "as a Catholic could not be a free man," until her dislike of Nixon and the famous TV performance of John F. Kennedy altered her vow.

She graduated from Smith College in 1934, but was unable to settle on a career or a family. A late bloomer, she took a wartime job with the Office of Strategic Services in 1941, working in intelligence. She met Paul Child on a wartime post in Sri Lanka. After a courtship extending to post-war China, the couple married in 1946. Paul's diplomatic post took her to Paris. After her legendary first meal in France — sole meuniere — Julia never looked back. She studied at Cordon Bleu, devoting herself fulltime to "mastering the art of French cooking," as her first cookbook would later be called. Two Frenchwomen with a goal of writing a French cookbook in English enlisted Julia in their project in the early 1950s. Simone "Simca" Beck provided the family recipes and French authenticity while Julia provided rigorous scientific testing. Over the next decade she researched, wrote, tested, rewrote hundreds of recipes, as she and Paul moved through diplomatic postings in Paris, Marseilles, Norway, and finally home to United States. After many rejections and disappointments, Knopf finally published "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in 1961. The book would transform how Americans ate, introducing fine cuisine to a United States eating Wonder Bread, Jell-O, tuna casseroles and TV dinners. WGBH in Boston launched "The French Chef" in 1962. At age 50, Julia began an unlikely but nearly four-decade long TV career. She mesmerized audiences with her skillful live demonstrations, insouciance, accidents, improv and earthy humor. That show was syndicated to over 90 stations, won a Peabody and Emmy, and led to Julia's second book, named after the show. Other TV shows included "Julia Child and Company" (1978), "Julia Child and More Company" (1980), and appearances on "Good Morning America." Julia cooked, researched, wrote cookbooks and did countless TV shows through her late 80s, working with many chefs and celebrities in other fields. Other books included a second volume of her classic work, "In Julia's Kitchen with Master Chefs" (1995), "Baking with Julia" (1996) and "Julia's Delicious Little Dinners" (1999). Julia was the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame (1993). In 2000, she received France's highest honor: The Legion d'Honneur. Julia remained a lifelong noncomforming progressive, actively supporting abortion rights and doing benefits for Planned Parenthood. Her husband's slow decline and death was a blow, but she kept working until about 89, dying of kidney failure just shy of her 92nd birthday. D. 2004

 

"I hated having to go to church."

—Julia Child, quoted in Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child” by Bob Spitz (2012)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


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