The Queen-like Closet - Frontispiece

The frontispiece to The Queen-like Closet shows a number of cooks preparing breads, pies and medical remedies.

About The Queen-like Closet

Hannah Wolley (born 1623) was one of the most successful cookery book writers of her time. She is the first woman to have her name attributed to such a book, and the first to have attempted to make a living from writing about cookery. She wrote four books which contained recipes for general cookery, medical remedies and confectionery.

Wolley learned her culinary skills from her mother and her older sisters. She had worked in the household of a noblewoman from the age of 17, and her employer, having recognised her talents, helped her to develop her expertise by providing her with rich ingredients and cookery books. Wolley later married the master of a school in Essex and, after seven years, moved with him to Hackney, where they managed a school with over sixty boarders.

Wolley's books seem mainly to be directed at servants working both for aristocrats and for those lower down the social scale. Many of the recipes are simplified versions of grand dishes. She incorporates many French flavourings and techniques that were at the height of fashion at the time. For example, a number of the recipes contain wine, anchovies and capers. In this way she attempted to enable readers in modest households to have a taste of glamour, without the expense of a nobleman's fare.

Taken from: The Queen-like Closet, or Rich Cabinet
Author / Creator: Wolley, Hannah
Publisher: R. Lowndes
Date: 1670
Copyright: By permission of the British Library
Shelfmark: 1037d.42