Gnomes are cute, we admit, but Martha Stewart might be fonder of them than the average person. While they are often seen as garden decorations, Stewart's line of products includes Christmas, Halloween, Easter, and even Super Bowl gnomes. So what is it about these woodland creatures that she is drawn to? It may have something to do with a career breakthrough that allowed her to transition from being a caterer to a full-fledged businesswoman. It happened thanks in part to her husband and the release of a popular book called "The Secret Book of Gnomes."
"Andy Stewart is in the late 70s CEO of Abrams Press, and Abrams has kind of a surprise blockbuster in the form of an illustrated book about gnomes, like the European creatures," design historian Sarah Archer said in Episode 1 of "The Many Lives of Martha Stewart." "This is hugely popular, it was a bit of a shock to everybody, and there's a big party that Martha caters." Stewart went all out, baking hundreds of gnome cookies, and all the staff dressed as magical creatures. One guest, head of Crown Publishing Alan Mirken, was delighted.
"I asked Andy who his caterer was and out came this little pixie with cornrows in her hair, a little blond pixie over here. And Andy says, "This is my wife, would you like to meet her?" And fortunately, I was smart enough to say, "Would you like to do a book, Martha?'" recalled Alan Mirken.
Stewart Broke New Ground Adding Photos
Martha Stewart asked Elizabeth Hawes to help her write her book. "We would sit down and talk for an hour or two, and I would write up what she and I talked about," Hawes said. They talked about Stewart's life growing up and the meals her family members loved to make. The experience proved to be stressful for Stewart. She had never written a book before and had no idea how to end it.
She was also very concerned when the publishers suggested the cookbook be in black and white. "A lifestyle book has to be in color. You have to show people the beauty," Stewart said in a clip. Nowadays we expect to see pictures in cookbooks, showing us what the dish we're making should look like, but in 1982, most cookbooks had recipes, but no photos. Even though Stewart was feeling anxious and frustrated on the inside, those around her didn't see it. "Martha was always a person that could just put it together, put it out there on the table and it was beautiful. She never got flustered," Michael Skott, the photographer for "Entertaining," said.
The book was a hit, becoming the most successful cookbook since Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was released in 1961. It even surpassed Stewart and Hawes' expectations. "We had no idea how successful the book was going to be," Hawes said.
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