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….

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….

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….

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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