Mrs KM Mathew, chief editor, Vanitha, passes away

By , agencyfaqs! | In | July 11, 2003
Mrs KM Mathew was chief editor of Vanitha, the largest circulated women's fortnightly in the country

Multi-faceted, remarkable, family person. These are the terms that readily come to mind when friends, well-wishers and acquaintances describe Annamma or Mrs KM Mathew, who passed away on July 10 at Caritas Hospital in Kottayam, Kerala. Annamma had been ailing for some years and was admitted to hospital in a critical condition 18 days ago. She breathed her last yesterday morning and was 81 years of age.

Chief editor of Vanitha, the largest circulated women's fortnightly in the country, Annamma was a household name in Kerala on account of, among other things, her pioneering work in cuisine literature. She was an authority on ethnic and exotic recipes and had authored 24 cookery books, 20 of which were in Malayalam and four in English.

"She was a devoted family person," says Verghese Chandy, general manager, marketing operations, Malayala Manorama. "To her, Malayala Manorama was an extension of her family, and one would feel at home with her."

Annamma began Vanitha in 1975 and earned the distinction of being the longest serving chief editor of a women's magazine in India. Circulation of the fortnightly, according to ABC for the period of July-December 2002, is 4.62 lakh copies, and, as Chandy of Malayala Manorama asserts, the magazine "understood the pulse of the Malayalee woman". "Despite being confined to a wheelchair over the last few years, Mrs Mathew would come to office and work regular hours," he says.

"She was a remarkable lady," says N Murali, joint managing director, The Hindu, who was a close family friend. "Apart from cookery, she was good at music. She was not only interested in Indian classical - Carnatic music - but Western classical as well. She played the violin, was involved in various social and cultural activities. In other words, she was truly a multi-faceted person."

Born on March 22, 1922, Annamma spent her school and college days in Tamil Nadu as her father George Philip was a civil surgeon in Chennai (then Madras). Proficient in Tamil apart from Malayalam and English, she married KM Mathew in 1942.

Deeply religious, she was initiated into the field of culinary literature by her father-in-law KC Mammen Mappillai who was chief editor of Malayala Manorama and himself a connoisseur of good food. Annamma began writing on cookery at a time (1950) when the reading public in Kerala wasn't accustomed to seeing columns on the subject, regarding it as just another household activity.

She devoted her energies in the propagation of good cooking recipes through her popular column Pachaka Vidhi in Malayala Manorama. A firm believer in nutritious food, she experimented with ordinary and abundantly available ingredients to evolve a number of recipes. Years later, she trod a similar path in the area of bridal make-up and hairstyling, releasing a book on hairstyles backed by extensive research.

Annamma is survived by her husband KM Mathew, chief editor of Malayala Manorama, sons, Mammen Mathew, editor and managing director, Malayala Manorama, Philip Mathew, managing editor, Malayala Manorama, Jacob Mathew, executive editor, Malayala Manorama and daughter, Thangam Mammen. © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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