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Mrs.Beeton's Book of Household Management (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – Abridged, 16 Mar 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Abridged edition edition (16 Mar 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192833456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192833457
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 4.6 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 845,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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

Review

sold out in Central London book shops within weeks (Red, August 2000)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
As with the COMMANDER OF AN ARMY, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

130 of 132 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Sep 2000
Format: Paperback
The vast majority of people assume they are familiar with 'Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management', but those expecting stuffy moralising and instructions to 'first go out and catch your hare' will be disappointed by what they find in Nichola humble's new edition, and probably rightfully so. Written by a comparatively naive girl in her early twenties, who was to die in childbirth a few years later, Beeton's book provides an unparalleled insight into Victorian social customs and domestic situations. It does not so much detail how our ancestors lived and behaved, as how they wanted to be seen to live and behave. In short this book is a vast compendium of social mores, detailing the ins and outs of a wealthy, aspirational society. Though Beeton's book provides a wealth of recipes, these are not her sole concern. The book details codes of conduct in every imaginable social situation, and gives instruction in case of a medical or legal emergencies. Advice to the mistress of the house on how to control servants is placed next to confidential advice to the servants themselves: this is indeed a book aimed at all levels of society. The recipes themselves are a startling mix, as they seem at one moment utterly modern, then at the next evoke a rural british society which was vanishing even as Beeton wrote, in the middle of the nineteenth century. They are also a charming reminder of the fact that the author was neither an experienced nor a professed cook: she frequently omits cooking times and quantities of ingredients! Finally, I would like to mention how important a modern, edited edition of Beeton's book is. The market is swamped with spurious works, such as 'Microwaving with Mrs. Beeton', an example Nichola Humble quotes in her introduction.Read more ›
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By J. Porjes on 15 Feb 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
No index, search is terrible (it's not fully indexed), scanned in a manner that makes it incomprehensible and unreadable.

I have a hard-copy facsimile of the original and it's great - but I wish I had a searchable, electronic edition. This isn't it.

Do not waste your money on the kindle edition.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By stigweard on 5 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
(This is not a comment on the content of the book, just the format) - Like other Kindle reviewers have said, this is just the free copy, so no investment whatever has gone into making it usable by Amazon. (I have actually seen this happen a couple of times with their free, i.e. out of copyright, ebooks.) I would look elsewhere on the net for a better version - there are loads of sites that distribute out of copyright books with much more precise formatting. I think this may be a mistaken strategy on the part of Amazon - surely the goal is to get people in the habit of using them as a trusted ebook supplier, whether for freebies or otherwise...
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By B. Anderson on 15 Mar 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management was the housekeeping bible of the mid-19th century. It was written by one woman, Isabella Beeton, who didn't realize the enormity of her undertaking until after the book was finished. This guide covers all of the most important information for a housewife of the 1800's, from cooking to hiring the help. There is a section on child-rearing, practical home remedies, (including antidotes for various poisons!)cleaning the home and every popular recipe from that time period. Despite the changes in our views of keeping household staff, medicine and eating habits, the book is a remarkable work. It is a must for anyone studying Victoriana, as it demonstrates the rigidity of that time period and the unwavering etiquette. The recipes are difficult to replicate, due to the lack of familiar measurements (one breakfast cupful of milk?)but if you have a adventurous soul, this may be enjoyable. Some of the ingredients are also difficult to find, and an acceptable solution may not be easy.
Read The Book of Household Managemen for it's historical value rather than for it's practical information and it will be an adventure.
The Book of Household Management
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By T. Lewcock on 22 Feb 2004
Format: Hardcover
Probably the most famous cook book in the world. This version is the specially enlarged 1st Edition Facsimile. Illustrated with nearly 600 quite detailed engravings (line art drawings) the book exudes history.

For those that have never heard of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household management the book "does what it says on the cover". Providing a huge number of recipes (over 1,350 in this version), approximately 200 pages cover other household management areas such as "Dinners and Dining"; "Bills of Fare"; "Domestic Servants" ("Duties of the": "Butler"; "Footman"; "Valet"; "Nursemaid" and many others); "The Rearing etc,. of Children"; "The Doctor" and "Legal Memoranda".

The book is full of annecdotes about the various ingredients and articles used, which compliment the style very well. There are 13 articles of the "General Observations of" variety, including "Quadrupeds", "The Sheep and Lamb" and "Game". Most articles and recipes are indexed by paragraph number rather than page number but this is ideal because there can be more than one entry on a page and it means that you can more easily find the exact place you require.

Due to the use of imperial measurements throughout the book it is not the ideal cookbook for the modern chef without knowledge of how to convert to or from Metric measurements (if you've got an Android phone, for example, you'll find a number of conversion apps available). Also, although prices for dishes are given they are, of course, in the imperial currency accurate to the time of the origainal publication date (1861) which although not of much practical use today provides an interesting historical aspect.

Don't expect advice on how to use a wok or traditional Indian cooking, this is a book about Victorian English food and everyday tips for that era. An excellent addition to any kitchen shelf or historical collection, just make sure you have dual scale scales (or the conversions available).
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