About Peg Bracken
Born Ruth Eleanor Bracken in Filer, Idaho, in 1918, Peg Bracken authored The I Hate to Cook Book (1960), written for women who scorned the notion of the domestic diva.
She grew up in St Louis, Missouri, graduating from Antioch College in 1940. She then moved to Portland, Oregon, christening herself Peg after her nickname, “Poots,” drew chuckles and looks of disdain from editors and other literati.
Her first book was The 9-Months’ Wonder (1958, with Helen Berry Moore), a collection of observations on child-bearing.
Before publishing The I Hate to Cook Book she worked as an advertising copywriter, producing a syndicated cartoon, Phoebe, Get Your Man, with Homer Groening. Homer was the father and inspiration for the eponymous character on the animated series, The Simpsons, created by his son, Matt.
The idea for The I Hate to Cook Book sprang from a lunchtime cabal known as The Hags. Following on many discussions of culinary contempt, fueled by martinis and macaroni salad, the book was essentially a set of recipes from Hags and their associates, strung together with Peg’s often mordant narrative.
The manuscript was rejected by six male editors before finally earning the respect of a female counterpart, who saw potential in Bracken’s contrarian thesis. It was illustrated by Hilary Knight, known for his work on Kay Thompson’s Eloise books.
The first edition of The I Hate to Cook Book sold 85,000 copies in two years (ultimately some three million), making Bracken a household name in the U.S., where she toured nationally, soon becoming a TV spokesperson for Birds Eye Foods.
Other “I Hate” books followed: The I Hate to Housekeep Book (1962); an Appendix to The I Hate to Cook Book (1966); The I Hate to Cook Almanack (1980); and The Compleat I Hate to Cook Book (1988). Moving to the subject of etiquette she published I Try to Behave Myself (1964) and I Didn’t Come Here to Argue (1969). Later, she also wrote But I Wouldn’t Have Missed it for the World (1973) about travelling, then her memoir, A Window Over the Sink (1981), and finally On Getting Old for the First Time (1996).
In addition to her books, Bracken penned for many American publications: The Oregonian; the San Francisco Chronicle; Family Circle; The Atlantic Monthly and others. Though forever linked to life in the kitchen, she considered herself primarily a humorist.
She passed away peacefully in her Portland home on October 20, 2007, at the age of 89.