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Homemakers books

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  • Homemakers books

    I am trying to get the name of a book that lower or middle class women could refer to in the late 19th century that would teach them how to cook but, more importantly, how to run a household, tend children, mind the house, etc. Can anyone point me in the right direction? Thanks for your help.

  • #2
    "Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management" -- published London, 1861.

    This link gives more information about it:

    "The Professed Cook; or, The Modern Art of Cookery, Pastry, and Confectionary, Made Plain and Easy [....]" -- London, 1776
    This link shows the book in e-book form:

    Keep in mind, Beeton's is mentioned as helping middle-class women. The poorest women might be illiterate. But lower-middle-class and middle-class could possibly use libraries or find cheap books for sale at stalls, including an old copy of the 1776 title.
    Pat D.
    Von Konigswald: Jack the Ripper plays shuffleboard. -- Happy Birthday, Wanda June by Kurt Vonnegut, c.1970.


    • #3
      Mrs. Beeton's was far and away the standard reference for how to run a middle class household. There are a variety of editions online, and second-hand copies are easily found in most used book stores.
      - Ginger


      • #4
        Mrs Beeton was and is excellent. An alternative was a sort of encyclopedia, which would probably also land on second hand book stalls, Ross Murray's 'The Modern Householder: A Manual of Domestic Economy in all its branches'. Published in the 1870's and later. Cassell's Household Guide was another popular encyclopedia-like volume.
        Last edited by Rosella; 02-17-2016, 10:48 PM.


        • #5
          There were many of them ('Warne's Model Cooking and Household Book', 1871, or 'Spon's Household Management', 1887, are just two of a multitude) but the head-and-shoulders leader of the pack was Mrs. Beeton; originally published as a monthly supplement over 24 months (price 3d) to "The English Woman's Domestic Magazine", it was issued as a volume in 1861 and has never been out of print since.

          A freely downloadable copy of the original volume is at


          • #6
            Apparently the lower orders were so clueless, middle-class people had to show them how to make tea :



            • #7
              Cassells Household Guide, chapter by chapter.



              • #8
                And, as luck would have it, the redoubtable Mimi Matthews has just posted about the life and legacy of Mrs. Beeton.


                I had no idea that she was so young! I'd have thought her in her 40s at least, to have amassed so much knowledge about running a house.
                - Ginger


                • #9
                  Very true, Ginger - in the mind's eye she's a rather stout Victorian matriarch, but she died at twenty-eight; however, as has been pointed out many times, most of the content was plagiarised from other books and some of the recipes are frankly odd (I'd hate to see pasta that's been boiled for 1 hr 45 mins!). Her strength was that she put it all together in a practical and easily comprehended form (she popularised the idea of giving a list of ingredients needed at the start of a recipe, for instance).


                  • #10
                    Isabella Beaton was a journalist not a cook. Her husband Sam Beeton was a publisher and she edited the famous book collecting receipes and information from all sources. It was not plagiarism.The cooking section is only a part of the overall book which is about how to run a middle class household. She worked extremely hard and was very organised. Had she not died at the early age of 28 in childbirth [ quite ironic] She may have gone on to edit magazines, working with Sam.
                    He sold the book in 1869 after her death. From 1869 it was not published by Beeton and has been changed over many editions to keep up to date.

                    Miss Marple
                    Last edited by miss marple; 09-17-2016, 02:37 AM.