Comprising Information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and under house-maids, Lady’s-maid, Maid-of-all-work, Laundry-maid, Nurse and nurse-maid, Monthly, wet, and sick nurses, etc. etc. also, sanitary, medical, & legal memoranda; with a history of the origin, properties, and uses of all things connected with home life and comfort.
Isabella Mary Mayson (March 12, 1836 – January 1865), universally known as Mrs Beeton, was the author of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management and is the most famous cookery writer in British history.
Isabella was born at 24 Milk Street, Cheapside, London. Her father Benjamin Mason died when she was young and her mother Elizabeth Jerram remarried a Henry Dorling. She was sent to school in Heidelberg in Germany and afterward returned to her stepfather’s home in Epsom.
On a visit to London, she was introduced to Samuel Orchard Beeton, a publisher of books and popular magazines, whom she married on 10 July 1856.
She began to write articles on cooking and household management for her husband’s publications.
In 1859–1861, she wrote a monthly supplement to The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.
In October 1861, the supplements were published as a single volume, The Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort.
After giving birth to her fourth child in January 1865, Isabella contracted puerperal fever and died a week later at the age of 28.
She is buried at West Norwood Cemetery under a simple headstone.
Published in 1861, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain.
The 2751 entries include tips on how to deal with servants’ pay and children’s health, and above all a wealth of cooking advice, instructions and recipes. It was an immediate bestseller, running to millions of copies within just a few years.
Perhaps surprisingly, author Isabella Beeton was just 21 years old when she started working on the book, and she died young at 28.
The book gives a charming and historically significant insight into Victorian domestic management.
Although its entries have little practical relevance today the name “Mrs Beeton” still has iconic status in Britain: most people recognize it and know its connotations, although very few have actually come into contact with the book itself.
The phrase, “first, catch your hare”, while popularly thought to originate here, was already proverbial when the book was written.
Today’s superstar chefs (especially Delia Smith) might be seen as the direct descendants of Mrs Beeton, who saw as they did the need to provide reassuring advice on culinary matters for the British middle classes, the Industrial Revolution having sealed the demise of traditional rural cooking skills.
Extract courtesy of Wikipedia.
MrsBeeton.com is an ongoing project that provides free access to the complete text of Beeton’s Book of Household Management. NEW for May 2012, we will be scanning all of the plates in the 1st edition reproduction of the text and inserting these into the online text throughout the next few months.
The Book of Household Management contains a wealth of recipes, advice and commentary from the Victorian era and offers a unique insight into the culture of a bygone age.