Saturday, March 26, 2011

Simpler Times : “Mrs. Beeton’s Every-Day Cookery”

A number of years ago  I was given a book, which belonged to my grandmother.   It was given to her as a wedding present in 1929.    “Mrs. Beeton’s Every-Day Cookery”.

First ....A little about Mrs.  Beeton ......

“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.”
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.”   (

Although most of her books were written for women with large households, with servants/maids and staff, “Mrs. Beeton’s Every-Day Cookery” , a revised edition published after the first World War (after her death), has a few chapters which are pertinent to our times.  After the war “times were changing” which touched all households.  Chapters of this book include – “The Art of Using Up – the cry and need for economy is greater to-day than ever” , “Vegetarian Cookery”.  There weren’t convenience foods available 100 years ago as they are to day, and electrical appliances were just starting to become available for those who could afford.    The book is filled with information on cooking from scratch and household hints and ideas which could certainly be used today and have long been forgotten.

“Though not widely known outside of Britain, Mrs. Beeton was Victorian England’s answer to Martha Stewart. Mrs. Beeton’s massive Book of Household Management, published in 1861, offered its readers no-nonsense, practical advice on all aspects of housekeeping, cooking, child care, dealing with one’s servants, managing one’s poultry, and the ins and outs of properly addressing dinner invitations. Of paramount importance in learning to run one’s Victorian home like a well-oiled machine, and second only to the Virtues of Cleanliness and Rising Early, was the twin Virtues of Economy and Frugality.”

She lived a short life albeit 28 years, wrote numerous articles and books and had four children.  An amazing lady !

If you’d like to learn more about Mrs. Beeton, Masterpiece theatre put out a very interesting movie (which I found at the library) entitled “The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton”.    Masterpiece Theatre - Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton


  1. I have Mrs. Beeton! I love vintage cookbooks. They give such an intimate look into a different time. And some of the recipes still look pretty darn good.


  2. So do I, I am looking for one right now but hunger drives me to inspiration and experimentation. Fresh ingredients are key and simple combinations are helpful and can be used in a variety of things. Necessity is the mother of invention!

  3. Some things n idea's remain always timeless. Mrs. Beeton Book receipts encourage fresh ingredients n economy.

  4. Some things n idea's remain always timeless. Mrs. Beeton Book receipts encourage fresh ingredients n economy.


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