FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
The Short Life and Long T... has been added to your Basket

Dispatch to:
To see addresses, please
Please enter a valid UK postcode.
FREE Delivery on orders over £10.
Used: Good | Details
Sold by Tree Savers
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: A used book that is in a good, clean condition. Your item will be picked, packed and posted FREE to you within the UK by Amazon, also eligible for free Super Saver delivery.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton Paperback – 3 Jul 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

See all 10 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
£5.62 £0.01
Note: This item is eligible for click and collect. Details
Pick up your parcel at a time and place that suits you.
  • Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
  • Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
How to order to an Amazon Pickup Location?
  1. Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
  2. Dispatch to this address when you check out
Learn more
£10.99 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Special offers and product promotions

Frequently bought together

  • The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton
  • +
  • George Eliot: The Last Victorian
Total price: £23.98
Buy the selected items together

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (3 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841153745
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841153742
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

Product description


'This is a wonderful book, so masterful and scholarly and wise, there will never need to be another. Hughes is an elegant writer, and a capable digger; no stone, however small or inaccessible, is left unturned.' Rachel Cooke, Observer

'This is a brilliant biography, which tells the absorbing, strange and sad story with great aplomb. Kathryn Hughes has seen quite rightly, that one of the most important parts of the story is what happened after Isabella's death and, indeed, Sam's, and the life of Mrs Beeton is continued to the present day. It is so magical a feat of imagination, of intricate learning lightly worn, that you know that Kathryn Hughes would write a wonderful novel. But this splendid book is as good as any.' Spectator

From the Author

Q and A with Kathryn Hughes

What drew you to Mrs Beeton?
When I was doing my PhD in Victorian history I came across the fact that she died when she was 28. Like everyone, I thought she was an elderly matron. I was staggered that a girl of my age (I was 28 at the time) had not only had four pregnancies but had written a book which made her name live for ever. I wanted to know more. Also, before starting my PhD I spent three unhappy years working as a features writer on women’s magazines. The editor would come in and say: ‘We need some cookery copy.’ Cobbling it together, I learnt that it was all in the presentation and not down to an in-depth knowledge of cookery. I realised that the fact that Mrs Beeton started out knowing nothing about cookery didn’t make her a scabby fraud, just a competent magazine journalist. We have this childlike fantasy that chefs and food writers are working in a cottage industry. But no one seriously thinks Nigella is setting her alarm to soak ingredients for three hours. Of course she employs people to help her. That doesn’t make her anything other than a professional modern cook.

How do you account for your fascination with the Victorian era?
My grandparents were born in the 1880s, which was kind of unusual for someone growing up in the sixties and seventies. Whereas my schoolfriends’ grandfathers fought in the Second World War, mine fought in the First. I had a sense of having a longer cultural memory than most children. Both my grandmothers had governesses and they would tell me stories about the tricks they played on them. It was like living history, that sense that you could touch it. I somehow had a living stake in the things we learnt about at school while, for the other girls, it was the olden days.

Would you like to have lived in the Victorian era?
Yes, as long as I could have chosen the rank into which I was born. I would like to have been an Anglican vicar – I would have to have been a man – with some financial means, living in a nice country parish. I would like to have been in the intellectual loop, scientifically minded, probably with a good collection of ferns or butterflies. I’m absolutely certain that if I’d been born Victorian I would actually have been a governess – well-educated but not that well-funded. I would have been one of those slightly sulky governesses who wasn’t very good at joining in and was always dropping hints that I was a bit more artistic and sensitive than the bluff county squire or rich merchant I was working for.

Do you own any Victorian objects and, if so, which is your favourite?
My grandparents lived in those big, draughty houses where nothing was thrown out. There were big lumber rooms full of Victoriana, which I just loved rummaging through. I’ve got a big chest with ‘Cut Flowers’ written on it, which belonged to my grandfather. He was a farmer and market gardener in mid-Wales. He would pack it with daffodils and send it on the train to Paddington and on to Covent Garden. The chest has holes in it so the flowers could breathe. When I finish writing a book I don’t throw away any of the hard copies, so I’ve got all my notes from the last twelve years stashed away in that chest. The fact that it never got lost amazes me. I also have a beautiful bedspread, which my great-grandmother, a vicar’s wife, hand embroidered and hand sewed. She obviously spent long lonely nights making it. It’s so intricate. It makes me feel slightly humble because she was educated and she wasn’t making it for profit.

Are you domestic?
I absolutely love the idea of domesticity, but I am hopelessly undomesticated, which is one of the reasons I wrote the book. My mother was both very domestic and also worked (as a social worker), which was kind of unusual when I was young. She was a total craft junkie. Even today she buys her own fleeces, dyes them with acorns, twigs and berries, spins them and sells the items for quite a lot of money. I always say: ‘What was the Industrial Revolution for? It’s bonkers.’ I buy mostly organic at Fresh and Wild but, sometimes, if I’ve had a bad day writing my book, I’ll go and have a McDonald’s cheeseburger and chips. I do have a cleaner – thank God – for two hours a week.

Are you interested in crafts?
Up until the age of 14 I was mad on crafts. I knitted, crocheted, appliquéd, did macramé. I made my own clothes. I was absolutely obsessed. We lived in the deep country and there wasn’t much else to do. It wasn’t that we were poor, it was just that my parents, who had been children in the War, belonged to that generation of make-do-and-menders who held the vaguely snobbish view that anything available in a shop was slightly common. Then, at 14, I discovered Miss Selfridge and their clingy polyester blouses in swirly colours. From then on I wanted ‘shop bought’ in all its trailing-thread, gape-seamed glory. These days I buy my clothes from Harvey Nics and Primark, and I no longer spend my evenings sticking seashells onto bits of plywood. I am still fascinated by the idea of craft and domesticity, but my fascination is of the cool, analytical kind.

Have you tried Mrs Beeton’s recipes?
Yes. I’ve got to be honest, I got my mother to help me. They can taste a bit odd, but the puddings are great. Her blancmange, junket and tapioca are great and her rice pudding is gorgeous. I realised that all those junior school puddings are really, really nice when they are done properly.

See all Product description

What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?

Customer reviews

Top customer reviews

on 14 April 2017
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 October 2005
Format: Hardcover
0Comment| 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 January 2006
Format: Hardcover
0Comment| 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 January 2010
Format: Paperback
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 October 2005
Format: Hardcover
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Would you like to see more reviews about this item?

Most recent customer reviews

Look for similar items by category