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The Real Mrs Beeton: The Story of Eliza Acton Hardcover – 1 Oct 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (1 Oct. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752461222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752461229
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 629,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'What is the greatest British cookbook of all time? Not Mrs Beeton, given that she pinched most of her recipes from other people. Nor is it Elizabeth David, since she mostly ignored British food - all of these writers owe a debt to a Victorian spinster from Tonbridge - Eliza Acton is not quite a household name. She deserves to be.' Bee Wilson, The Telegraph '[Eliza Acton] is a brilliant subject for exploration and her book is one of the very few from which it is possible to work easily and get wonderful results - I truly rate her.' Dr Annie Gray, Historic Food and Dining ' - she's an amazing subject and worthy of any enquiry - after all, she did write what is still the best cookery book written in the English language.' Jyll Bradley, author of the play Before Mrs Beeton: the Eliza Acton Story --The Guardian

Biographer Sheila Hardy says recent interest in celbrity chefs and cookery in general has helped Eliza Acton's star rise again and prompted the reprinting of her books. The foreword to the biography is written by the Suffolk-based queen of all things culinary, Delia Smith, who lauds her heroine as a gifted communicator...The writer's views on issues of the age also come across: topics such as education, sweatshop conditions in some bakeries and the living conditions of the impoverished. Sheila culled information from old newspapers, too. --Ipswich Evening Star (Series)

About the Author

SHEILA HARDY was a teacher and lecturer of English and History before becoming a full-time writer. Her previous biographies include The Story of Anne Candler; Treason's Flame, The Diary of a Suffolk Farmer's Wife and Frances, Lady Nelson: the Life and Times of an Admirable Wife. She has also written numerous histories of her native Suffolk and has given talks in the county for over thirty years. She lives in Ipswich.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been delighted by this book by Sheila Hardy. It is brilliantly written and gives a good insight into
the life and times of Eliza Acton. I am Eliza Actons great, great, great niece and have struggled to find out much about her. I feel that she was robbed of the crown she should have worn but was stolen by Mrs B who had the great fortune of having been married to a publisher! This book puts the record straight. Well done Sheila Hardy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lovely book, highly recommend.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More to Eliza Acton that meets the eye! 8 Oct. 2012
By Kiwi reader - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am interested in both history and cooking so any books that combine the two gets my attention. I'd previously read a biography on Isabella Beaton, and like most people, assumed she was the definitive source of what we have become so familiar with - the "modern" recipe book. I was surprised therefore to find out that (amongst others it must be said) she was the queen of poaching - plagarising recipes and ideas from others and passing them off as her own! And while I had heard of Eliza Acton, she was a shadowy figure and I had no real idea of who she actually was.
This book was an interesting read, given the paucity of actual and factual information available (very little in the way of correspondence has survived and the only real sources of information about Eliza are official records that don't give insights into personality etc). Despite this lack of personal insight, Shelia Hardy managed to bring Eliza to life. It was really interesting to find out that Eliza was part of a large, close family and well educated. In adult life, as well as a cookery book writer, Eliza was also a teacher and a published poet. Sheila Hardy portrayed Eliza as an intellegent woman who worked hard to achieve her goals, despite bouts of ill health. She also made a good case to dispel the rumours that Eliza had an illegitimate child when she was young.
The only thing I would have liked more of in this book was recipes - for me there weren't enough, however reading this book has now made me want to search for a copy of Eliza's "Modern Cookery for Private Families"!
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