Isabella Beeton - Cookery Writer: 1836 - 1865
Isabella Mary Beeton (née Mayson), 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.
Her father Benjamin Mason died when she was young and her mother Elizabeth Jerram remarried a Henry Dorling. Isabella was sent to school in Heidelberg in Germany and afterward returned to her stepfather's home in Epsom. As the oldest in a family of 21 children Isabella helped with managing the household. This most likely contributed to the development her common-sense attitude to life and her leaning towards efficiency and economy. These attributes, coupled with a good education (unusual for woman in those times), would later allow her to create the kind of book that she did and to become an enthusiastic creator, experimenter, organizer and publisher of recipes.
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 18591861, 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.
Popularly known as Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, it was essentially a guide to running a Victorian household, with advice on fashion, childcare, animal husbandry, poisons, the management of servants, science, religion, and industrialism. Of the 1,112 pages, over 900 contained recipes, such that another popular name for the volume is Mrs Beeton's Cookbook. Most of the recipes were illustrated with coloured engravings, and it was the first book to show recipes in a format that is still used today. It is said that many of the recipes were actually plagiarised from earlier writers (including Eliza Acton), but the Beetons never claimed that the book's contents were original. It was intended as a guide of reliable information for the aspirant middle classes. Mrs Beeton is perhaps described better as its compiler and editor than as its author, many of the passages clearly being not her own words.
After giving birth to her fourth child in January 1865, Isabella contracted puerperal fever and died a week later at the age of 28.
This website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.
The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.
You are welcome to use our material. However: maintaining this site costs money. We are a Charity and work mainly with volunteers, but we find it difficult to pay our overheads.
Visitors to our website since January 2014.
Pop-up names are online now.
The number is indicative, but incomplete. For full details click on cross icon at bottom right.