Wednesday 19 October 2011

Mrs Beeton

Auntie Jessie has long been an admirer of  Isabella Mary Beeton, generally remembered as Mrs Beeton of cookery book fame. Mrs Beeton was born in London in 1836 and became an accomplished pianist after spending 2 years at school in Germany. She married Samuel Beeton when she was 20years of age; he was a publisher of books and magazines and Isabella began writing articles for his publications. Sadly she was to die after the birth of her 4th son at the young age of 28yrs....this seems to make her books all the more remarkable ...she was no seasoned grandmother with years of experience.

The reason she is on my mind today is that Mum has just given me a bag of bits and pieces that she's de-cluttered from her bedroom drawers and in it was this .......

....a splendid full length pinafore apron with the cover of Mrs Beeton's "Book Of Household Management" proudly printed on the front....I had never seen it before but am assuming that it was a gift to Mum from Auntie Jessie...and I will eat my hat if it wasn't! It is totally impractical having no pockets and the shoulder straps keep falling off my shoulders but it did make me think of Mrs Beeton and her wonderful books, of which I have two very old copies. This one appears to have been reprinted around 1923 and is beautifully illustrated with coloured engravings of various ingredients and kitchen appliances.

This one I do know Auntie Jess bought for me many years ago at her local CWA Jumble Sale and seems to date from around 1900. There are sections on such now forgotten (here) things as "Servants Duties" and "Household Hints" such as soaking the soles of your boots in salt and water and leaving them overnight in linseed oil to stop them 'creaking"....

Various International Cheeses

Here's a page of labour saving devices in the laundry....makes me appreciate so very much my automatic washing machine and warm breezes to dry my washing.

If you ever get the opportunity to browse through one or more of her books I hope you will enjoy reading of days gone by as much as I do. The advertisements throughout the book are just charming are the International Recipes such as Roasted Black Swan(choose a young bird) and boiled choko from Australia.

These photos are from Wikipedia and hopefully the FBI won't turn up in 10minutes!

This is from a BBC production called "The Secret Life Of Mrs Beeton" made in 2006

The book cover on my apron

The lady herself...she made such a huge impact on domestic duties with her books and articles and  has probably affected your life more than you will ever realise.

I do hope you have a wonderful Wednesday, I need to start some more Kim Chi and do some other cooking today.

Love from Sue


  1. Fabulous! Love that apron. Goodness, you could make a whole apron just from the skirt! I collect old cookbooks and homemaking books, and when I was in London (ever so many years ago) I decided the one book I needed to come home with was an edition of Mrs. Beeton's. Fond memories -- thank you!

  2. Wow Sue this post is awesome, I have never heard of Mrs Beeton so I shall go searching. I love the apron :) I love the photos of the old books, my Dad had a very old cookery book and the photos you have shown here remind me of his book. Loving your posts rich with history :) Regards, Ruth xx

  3. Lovely post Sue :)
    I didnt know about the BBC doc, or heard of her either.
    Enjoy your day :)

  4. What a lovely apron! I have an early copy of Mrs Beetons, I've leafed through it since I was a child. I'd be tempted to either rejig the apron to fit better or (if it were mine)I'd take the bottom panel, and staple it around a canvas frame and hang it on the kitchen wall!

  5. he he Big smiles here coz I love wearing it as is after all....I really need a long dark woollen dress and a mop cap in place of my t-shirt and shorts lol It does not come into contact with anything mucky though!
    Hi Claire...nice to see you again, are you joining the Christmas Swap at the forum this year?

  6. I hadn't thought of that Sue, but depending on time, probably. I've just applied for a temp job which could be rather a number of hours until Christmas, so I'll get my thinking cap on and see what I can come up with.

  7. Oh lucky you, owning two Mrs Beeton's books. I'm sitting here looking at my Nana's copy of 'All About Cookery'. From my research after reading your post it would appear that this editon was printed in Melbourne in 1905. I'm not sure if it belonged to Nana or her mother originally as they didn't emigrate until 1908 when Nana was 13.
    Nana would allow us to look through this book if we were very careful. I love the colour plates and the weird and wonderful foods and discriptions.
    Love the apron, that'll certainly keep you clean :)

  8. I have the exact same apron, it's huge and doesn't fit, but I can't get rid either, I love it !!