Judith Schmidt Douw was born Judith Schmidt in 1926. She began working at Grove Press in 1955 as Barney Rosset's secretary. During her time at Grove Press, she befriended both Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider, American director and Beckett's friend. Judith Schmidt married John de Peyster Douw in 1970. That same year she left Grove Press to work on the presidential campaign of Eugene McCarthy.