Tidbits from Mrs. Beeton

grace

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#1
1546896339745.png


I don't know how many of us have heard of this woman, but she was quite the authority back in the day! I found her "Book of Household Management" today (dated 1861), and I'll be sharing tidbits.

If anyone is curious or would like to follow along, here's the free link: https://archive.org/details/b21527799/page/n7

While she was better known "across the pond" as it were, Mrs. Beeton demonstrates the sheer volume of information that in many cases was being published for the first time in many places. This book is at 1186 pages and rather small type.

From the Introduction:

"I must frankly own, that if I had known, beforehand, that this book would have cost me the labour which it has, I should never have been courageous enough to commence it."

More to come as I work through it...
 
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grace

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#3
As times were changing all over, with industrialization beginning to move into day to day life, people began to have *gasp* leisure time! We had time to think about such things as the best way to feed children, manage houses, and host parties. We didn't just have to do it.

Consider this except on "Household Management"

"The Daily duties of a Housekeeper are regulated, in a great
measure, by the extent of the establishment she superintends. She should,
however, rise early, and see that all the domestics are duly performing their
work, and that everything is progressing satisfactorily for the preparation of
the breakfast for the household and family."

Common sense, no? One wonders how anyone got along BEFORE her...*facepalm. These people sometimes take the longest time to state the obvious.

Or this section:

"
In concluding these remarks on the duties of the housekeeper, we
will briefly refer to the very great responsibility which attaches to her position.
Like “Caesar's wife,” she should be “above suspicion,” and her honesty and
sobriety unquestionable ; for there are many temptations to which she is
exposed. In a physical point of view, a housekeeper should be healthy and
strong, and be particularly clean in her person, and her hands, although they
may show a degree of roughness, from the nature of some of her employments,
yet should have a nice inviting appearance. In her dealings with the various
tradesmen, and in her behaviour to the domestics under her, the demeanour
and conduct of the housekeeper should be such as, in neither case, to diminish,
by an undue familiarity, her authority or influence.
"

All of a sudden, this is a full-time job--not just something for Mama to pick up and do!

Lots in here for various other fora as well!
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#4
As times were changing all over, with industrialization beginning to move into day to day life, people began to have *gasp* leisure time! We had time to think about such things as the best way to feed children, manage houses, and host parties. We didn't just have to do it.

Consider this except on "Household Management"

"The Daily duties of a Housekeeper are regulated, in a great
measure, by the extent of the establishment she superintends. She should,
however, rise early, and see that all the domestics are duly performing their
work, and that everything is progressing satisfactorily for the preparation of
the breakfast for the household and family."

Common sense, no? One wonders how anyone got along BEFORE her...*facepalm. These people sometimes take the longest time to state the obvious.

Or this section:

"
In concluding these remarks on the duties of the housekeeper, we
will briefly refer to the very great responsibility which attaches to her position.
Like “Caesar's wife,” she should be “above suspicion,” and her honesty and
sobriety unquestionable ; for there are many temptations to which she is
exposed. In a physical point of view, a housekeeper should be healthy and
strong, and be particularly clean in her person, and her hands, although they
may show a degree of roughness, from the nature of some of her employments,
yet should have a nice inviting appearance. In her dealings with the various
tradesmen, and in her behaviour to the domestics under her, the demeanour
and conduct of the housekeeper should be such as, in neither case, to diminish,
by an undue familiarity, her authority or influence.
"

All of a sudden, this is a full-time job--not just something for Mama to pick up and do!

Lots in here for various other fora as well!
I think one has to remember the audience Mrs. Beeton most likely catered to with her sage advice - newlywed wives who were more likely than not very young. While her recipes and advice on dealing with invalids was invaluable to the seasoned housewife her tips for managing servants and running a household were no doubt directed at the new bride settling into her first experience at running a home. I'm sure mothers imparted wisdom to their daughters, but I'm also sure they also appreciated having this handy reference available to them.

Also, had she not been so chatty on seemingly obvious topics during the era we wouldn't know how people lived back then. Very few people have servants on the level as the Victorians did. As a writer of historic fiction I find it invaluable as a window into a world that no longer exists.
 
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#6
I bet this book was great for pressing flowers. Rather lengthy, how well did it sell at the time? I could see it as a reference book, and not being read from cover to cover. While it might have had an answer for everything, how well was it thought of in it's day. I don't mean in a bad way, but how many new wives get cook books upon marriage, and it is used, but only when necessary. A lot of recipes there. I'll pass on the eel soup. Some of the other soups look very good though. A lot of info there.
 
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Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#7
@Anna Elizabeth Henry, I agree; however, I find it interesting that this era is when these books start coming out. Many of these topics had been only "understood" up to this point, which was the point I was trying to make. :wink:

I just found her extensive recipe section...oh, my! :D
Very true, most domestic things were word of mouth via women and were passed down in families, I'm sure. I think the advent of cheaper publication allowed publishers to cater to interest groups, which included women in need of domestic advice and ideas for dinner!

Oh, yes - the recipe section is my favorite. I first discovered her years ago when doing research of what 19th century people ate. Some things are ludicrous while other things are simple and wholesome and still relevant today. I've even tried some of her recipes which generally turn out well.

There was a PBS movie (more likely originally produced by the BBC) called The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton. She had a very tragic life, dying young from an incurable STD she obtained from her husband :frown:

If you want to learn more about her, I thoroughly enjoyed this book - https://smile.amazon.com/Short-Life...F8&qid=1547062666&sr=8-3&keywords=mrs.+beeton
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#8
I bet this book was great for pressing flowers. Rather lengthy, how well did it sell at the time? I could see it as a reference book, and not being read from cover to cover. While it might have had an answer for everything, how well was it thought of in it's day. I don't mean in a bad way, but how many new wives get cook books upon marriage, and it is used, but only when necessary. A lot of recipes there. I'll pass on the eel soup. Some of the other soups look very good though. A lot of info there.
Some digging around on the internet turned up some shocking answers to how popular Mrs. Beeton's book actually was in the 1860's and even beyond. It was first published in 1861 and by 1868 sold over two million copies. It was considered a best-seller as in it's first year it sold 60,000 copies. The Oxford English Dictionary recognized by the 1890's Beeton's name "was adopted as a term for an authority on all things domestic and culinary". It's also considered one of the most consulted cookery books from 1875 to 1914. Source

I know the food experts for the filming of Downton Abbey used it more than any other text when attempting to recreate period meals.

And trust me, we're all passing on the eel and turtle soups :eek:
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#11
My God, more servants then you can count. They had servants for the servants
They really did! The cook in a large household had a huge staff of kitchen maids who chopped and prepped various food items, scullery maids who cleaned dishes, pots, etc. and even some places had stillroom maids, too. The stillroom was where jams were made and items were distilled like vinegar, pickled vegetables and sometimes even gin and other medicinal remedies were brewed up.

I went on a tour of Chatsworth and they employed 60 full time staff at one point, almost all of which lived on the estate if not in the house itself. It's like having a small army of domestic helpers at your disposal.
 
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#15
Not very useful for the average woman who didn't have servants, or at the most had one.

i do want to point out that for period household management and cook books, most
Civil War era women (unless newly married) would have owned books published earlier. I have a facsimile copy of The Workwoman's Guide, by A Lady, a very popular reference in the Civil War era, which was originally published in 1838. It is also of British origin and assumes lots of servants, using lots of different types of cleaning cloths, which of course had to be kept in order by the poor harried housewife. It does, however, have lots of ideas for sewing and decorative arts, as well as more practical items like infant layettes.
 

donna

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#16
Isabelle Mary Mayson was born on March 14, 1936 in London. She married Samuel Beeton. He was a publisher. In 1861 she wrote and he published her book, "Mrs.Beeton 's Book of Household Management". She was only 28 years old when she died in 1865. She has memorial on Find A Grave:
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12186252/isabella-mary-beeton
 
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#18
Interesting book. Paragraph 2469 concerning infants. ...and on no account keep it, longer than absolutely necessary, confined in an atmosphere loaded with the breath of many adults. Conversion for today: keep infants out of rooms full of loaded adults.

My wife is a retired Home Ec. teacher she will enjoy this book, thanks for the post.
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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Interesting book. Paragraph 2469 concerning infants. ...and on no account keep it, longer than absolutely necessary, confined in an atmosphere loaded with the breath of many adults. Conversion for today: keep infants out of rooms full of loaded adults.

My wife is a retired Home Ec. teacher she will enjoy this book, thanks for the post.
Interesting advice given they didn't know about germs in the era.

Also, keep infants off planes would be sound modern advice, too!
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#20
Her book really is a treasure albeit one pretty illustrative of the gulf between classes. Not to take a thing away from this thread, we've had a few previous on Isabella- book was reprinted for years. The illustrated copies are delightful- forget which year's edition they made an appearance. @Anna Elizabeth Henry , do you know?

Hang on. Just may have an illustration or 6. :angel:
 

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