Mrs Beeton was the Delia Smith of her day. Vastly popular in its time, her great Book of Household Management is scarcely read nowadays in its original form (no offence, Delia). This is a pity, since as a result a distorted picture of the author and her work persists, as an oppressive Victorian materfamilias with a decidedly bossy attitude and a tendency to boil vegetables to a grey pulp. The truth, as Nicola Humble demonstrates in her abridgement of the work for the Oxford press, is quite different. Isabella Beeton was in many ways an unusual person. One of 21 children, she lived for part of her childhood in the grandstand at Epsom racecourse, married Sam Beeton, an ambitious young publisher, worked hard as a journalist and translator, and died of puerperal fever (not, sadly, such an unusual fate in her time) at the age of 28. The Book of Household Management grew out of her own sense, as a new bride, of the lack of such a work of instruction and guidance for young women faced with the daunting business of running a home. It is largely a compilation rather than an original work. Its originality lies in its organisation and purpose; its quality arises from the clarity and decisiveness of Beeton's writing. Behind the period details, there is a wealth of common sense.
Nicola Humble provides a scholarly introduction and notes. Gesturing towards academic fashions, she describes the many facets of the book in terms of modes of discourse--which is perhaps a highfalutin way of pointing out the remarkable range of subject matter and the variety of Beeton's sources. The notes entertainingly combine theoretical commentary with often deadpan remarks on the recipes ("Rock biscuits: so-called for their appearance, not their texture"). The recipes themselves are the principal victims of the abridgement, for Nicola Humble's main aim is to present the book as a kind of exhaustive self-portrait of the expanding and aspirational Victorian middle classes. The representative selection that remains, however, are enough to make this a welcome reissue of a fascinating and important book. --Robin Davidson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
sold out in Central London book shops within weeks (Red, August 2000) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
An attractive facsimile edition of a bestselling culinary classic, at an unbeatable price. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Isabella Mary Beeton was born in London is 1836, where she grew up in a household of twenty-one children. It took Isabella four years to compile her masterwork, publishing Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management in 1861. It contains an enormous amount of information to help people live, in Isabella Beeton's own words, 'economically, tastefully and well'. Her style, imparting information as clearly and simply as possible, was hugely influential. The book sold 60,000 copies in its first year, but Isabella Beeton died four years later, in 1865, aged just twenty-eight. The enduring popularity of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management is testament to the quality of her advice. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.