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Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management

1861

Mrs Beeton

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    Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management was first published in 1861. It not only contains over 2000 recipes, but is also a complete guide to running a household. The book catered for the increasingly frenetic lifestyle of an expanding middle class. Many of its readers will have been entering into an unfamiliar way of life, having recently stepped up the social ladder, and the book offers all sorts of essential advice: how to choose friends and acquaintances; how to dress; how to receive morning calls, or to seat guests at the dinner table. However, Mrs Beeton made it plain that the mistress of the house was not expected to dirty her hands. Instead she should delegate responsibility - the majority of Beeton's instructions are designed to be carried out by servants. The book contains meticulously detailed advice on the duties of a wide variety of staff - cooks, dairy maids, nurse maids, valets, lady's-maids, footmen and the like - all of whom would have been expected to operate under the watchful command of their employer.

     

    Isabella Beeton (1836-65) was married to the publisher Samuel Beeton, whose most successful venture was the 'Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine'. Isobella was largely responsible for the production of the magazine, taking charge of the cookery pages, reading all the proofs, and devising the layout. Household Management first appeared in monthly parts in the magazine. She died when she was only 28 having contracted puerperal fever. Shown here is the first page of the preface, and an illustrated page showing puddings and pastries. Mrs Beeton compares the mistress of a house to the commander of an army: just as a commander governs his troops, a mistress must take command of her household.

     

    Shelfmark: c133 c5

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    Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management

    THE BOOK OF HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

     

    CHAPTER 1 THE MISTRESS.

    "Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to time. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household; and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." Proverbs, xxx1, 25-28.

     

    1. As with the commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so it is with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path. Of all those acquirements, which more particularly belong in the feminine character, there are none which take a higher rank, in our estimation, than such as enter into a knowledge of household duties; for on these are perpetually dependent the happiness, comfort and well-being of a family. In this opinion we are borne out by the author of "The vicar of Wakefield", who says, "The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron, are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queens. She who makes her husband and her children happy, who reclaims the one from vice and trains up the others to virtue, is a much greater character than ladies described in romances, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind with shafts from their quiver, or their eyes."

     

    2. PURSUING THIS PICTURE, we may add, that to be a good housewife does not necessarily imply an abandonment of proper pleasures or amusing recreation; and we think the more necessary to express this, as the performance of the duties of a mistress may, to some minds, perhaps seem to be

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