Andre Simon, L.C.B.E. (1877-1970)
A Frenchman who, from before the World War I period, lived in England. He married an Englishwoman. He was probably the most important influence on wine writing in the middle of the 20th century. Having started in the Champagne trade as a salesman, he was always especially devoted to this wine, but he wrote extensively about all the wines of the world, about gastronomy and compiled an important work, A History of the Wine Trade in England as early as 1906. In 1933 he founded what is now The International Wine & Food Society and in the following year started the Journal of the Society, often travelling to establish branches of the Society in the U.S., Australia and South Africa, as well as all over the U.K. And in other countries of Europe.
His books are numerous and, whereas his contribution to wine and gastronomic literature prior to 1939 is very great indeed, in his later years he tended to publish a lot of rather superficial work, often without adding to the research that had made his earlier writings so original and influential. The constant re-issuing (without always updating) of his books seems an exploitation of a great name today; and those who appreciate Andrews work should consider much of it as period writing, by now dated as to facts. His two volumes of autobiography are very charming.
Andre’s kindness to those who wished to learn about both wine and food is certainly legendary and his personality – in appearance he was what everyone imagines a delightful Frenchman, loving the good things of life, to look like – was outstanding. Even when, nearly blind, he attended dinners and other public functions, his benevolence and gentleness were obvious and irresistible.