This post originally appeared on Austen Authors on October 30, 2017. Enjoy!
Bless Sharon Lathan. She did a series of blogs about servants of the 18th and 19th centuries and had a reference to Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. I’m always looking for information about these two centuries mainly for my books: Regency romance and Pride and Prejudice variations. I love knowing a little more about the servants and how they functioned in the households of those time periods as I never know when I might like to incorporate some of that information in my writings.
I found Mrs. Beeton’s original book rather fascinating. Although the latest book contains more than her original, her first writings led the way to a more extensive book later on. As it turned out, the book is more than just a recipe book. It contains information about the servants such as the butler, housekeeper, maids, footman, coachman, groom, stable boy, valet, and lady’s maid.
But it all began with the Mistress of the household much as it does today. She was encouraged not only to set a good example for the servants but also to treat them with dignity. A number of things are mentioned in regard to the hiring and treatment of servants in order to have the household run smoothly and peacefully. In fact, it was recognized that the tone of a household began with its mistress. Whether the household activities ran smoothly, there was peace among the family members as well as the servants, and the house was well maintained all began with the lady of the house. Her duties were not a few and encompassed many aspects of household management and some activities outside the family’s domicile that also included society and social settings. The chapter on the Mistress is quite extensive.
Although Mrs. Beeton’s Book is quite lengthy, only three of the forty-four chapters are concerning the Mistress and servants. The rest of the book covers care of the kitchen and cooking utensils, the various types of food, how to cook them, dinner menus, and numerous recipes. So, there is something for researchers of historical fiction or non-fiction or for readers who just like to cook. 🙂
In fact, the book covers everything from soup, meats, fruits, vegetables, desserts and even beverages going into great detail as to the different types of foods, where they came from, and how to cook them.
I was pleased to note that the entire original book of forty-four chapters is found at Mrs. Beeton’s Book. However, it is not a single download. All the chapters are listed separately so you will have multiple downloads. What I did was open each chapter and then save each as a Word PDF. If you just want the research for the servants, simply save those three chapters. But if you want the recipes, you’ll need to save the remaining chapters.
All in all, it’s an interesting book, and I look forward to looking at its contents more closely. In the meantime, I hope you will have fun perusing the various chapters as well. Enjoy!
Sorry, if this made any of you hungry. 🙂
NOTE: Later versions of Mrs. Beeton’s book have added chapters so that they now total seventy-four.