A classic of domestic literature, Isabella Beeton's Book of Household Management is both an entertaining curiosity and an important social document, providing an invaluable insight into the day-to-day workings of a Victorian household. Encyclopaedic in its range, the book contains 2,751 entries covering (besides its countless recipes) advice on childbirth, fashion, home remedies, animal husbandry and the management of servants, and even dealing with the sensitive subjects of violence, cruelty, illness and death, and contentious issues still current, such as factory farming.
Born in 1836, the eldest of twenty-one children, Isabella's upbringing was far from conventional and she was never the stately matron of our imaginings. She was already a working journalist when at the age of twenty-one she began to write her epic work in the form of magazine supplements; these were published in the famous single volume of 1861. When she died at only twenty-eight her book had already met with phenomenal success and to this day it remains legendary the world over.