On this day in history : 1st October 1861 – Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (also known as Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book) is published….

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Title page of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management – Public domain

Initially it had appeared as a series of 24 instalments in ‘The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine’ – a publication owned by her husband, the ambitious publisher and magazine editor Samuel Orchart Beeton….

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The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, September 1861 – Beeton & Co – Public domain

Isabella Beeton (nee Mayson) had started writing for her husband’s magazine when she was just 21-years-old, less than a year after they were married…. In the beginning she translated French fiction and wrote the cookery column – often using recipes sent in by readers…. In 1859 the husband and wife team launched the series of household management articles in the form of 48 page supplements – and then eventually bringing them all together in book form, which was published by Samuel’s Company S.O. Beeton…. In the first year it sold in excess of 60,000 copies….

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Isabella in 1860 – Public domain

Tragically Isabella died of puerperal fever in February 1865, she was just 28-years-old…. At the time she had been working on a new version of her book – which was to have been titled ‘The Dictionary of Every Day Cookery’….

NPG D69; Samuel Orchart Beeton by Julian Portch
Samuel Orchart Beeton by Julian Portch, photograph of crayon drawing, (circa 1853) – Public domain

In 1866, a year after his wife’s death, Samuel hit hard times after a bad business deal – and sold the rights to the Book of Household Management to Ward, Lock & Tyler (who later became Ward, Lock & Co)…. For marketing purposes it wasn’t broadly publicised that Isabella had died – in a business sense it was important to keep the ‘Beeton’ name alive…. With each new edition the book continued to grow in size; by 1907 it had reached 74 chapters with over 2,000 pages…. In 1868 it sold over two million copies….it was arguably the most consulted cookbook of the late 1800s/early 1900s….

NPG P3; Isabella Mary Beeton (nÈe Mayson) by Maull & Polyblank
Isabella Beeton, nee Mayson by Maull & Polyblank, hand-tinted albumen print, 1857 – Public domain

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