Sweet Temptation


Tim Richardson, the author of Sweets: The History of Temptation, and the world's first 'international confectionary historian', chooses his favourite sweet-related sources from the British Library collection.

Tim Richardson [TR]: Why did I decide to write a world history of sweets? I suppose the clever answer is that my father was a dentist and his father was a fudge salesman, so it was all in the genes. The truth, however, is that I was made redundant from my job as a journalist and suddenly faced life as a freelance writer. I found myself in the British Library, an old haunt, researching ideas for books on garden history (my 'day job') -- but I kept being sidetracked by my interest in sweets. I just couldn't resist calling up ancient cookery and pharmaceutical books from the stacks, reading the recipes, looking at the illustrations and marvelling at the extraordinary cast of characters involved with confectionery. It was great fun and rather mischievous, and I soon developed quite an obsession with this strange and wonderful subject.

Then I was introduced to a literary agent. We had lunch and talked about the garden books I was going to write. Just as we were about to leave I mentioned, slightly embarrassed, that I had done all this research into sweets history. My new agent sat down again. 'You have got to do this,' she said. And so I did.

Here is a selection of my favourites from the hundreds of books I perused from the shelves of the British Library.