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"Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management": One of the Major Publishing Successes of the 19th Century

1859 to 1861
Title page of 'Household Management' Wellcome L0042710

Colorful title page of an early first edition that left the "Mrs" before Isabella Beeton's name off the title. Later editions included Mrs. in the title.

In 1859 Isabella Mary Beeton began serial publication, through her husband's publishing company, Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort.

Intended as a guide of reliable information about every aspect of running a house for the aspirant middle classes, its 2,751 entries on 1,112 pages included in addition to 900 recipes and a wealth of cooking advice, tips on how to deal with servants' pay and children's health. Many of the recipes were illustrated with colored engravings. Her book also one of the first cookbooks to show recipes in the modern format with all the ingredients listed at the start, a format that Mrs. Beeton borrowed from Eliza Acton's Modern Cookery for Private Families (1845), along with some of the recipes. However, the Beetons never claimed that the book's contents were original. and Mrs. Beeton may perhaps be designated more accurately as its compiler and editor, rather than its author, as many passages were not in her own words.

The work first appeared in a series of 24 monthly parts issued as supplements to the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine published by Samuel Orchard Beeton. Previously portions of the text had appeared as columns on such topics as "Cooking, Pickling and Preserving,"  "The Management of Children," etc. in the Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine, to which Isabella began contributing after her marriage to Samuel Beeton in 1856. The edition in book form was "one of the major publishing success stories of the nineteenth century, selling over 60,000 copies in its first year of publication in 1861, and nearly two million by 1868" (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management. Abridged Edition, edited with an Introduction and Notes by Nicola Humble [2000] viii).

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