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Mrs Beeton and Mrs Marshall (Hardback)

A Tale of Two Victorian Cooks

P&S History > British History > Victorian History P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > Food & Drink Women of History > Struggle & Suffrage

By Emma Kay
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 216
Illustrations: 80 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399009003
Published: 30th November 2023


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RRP £25.00

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The name Mrs Beeton has endured for well over a century, synonymous with all things reassuringly culinary, while her contemporary Agnes Bertha Marshall remains somewhat of an enigma.

Both Isabella Beeton and Agnes Bertha Marshall lived within a short distance of each other in Pinner, worked in London, wrote about, and shared a passion for food, all just a couple of decades apart.

While Isabella Beeton compiled one successful book of collected recipes, Agnes built a cookery empire, including a training school, the development of innovative kitchen equipment, a range of cooking ingredients, an employment agency and a successful weekly journal, as well as writing three incredibly popular recipe books.

Mrs Beeton and Mrs Marshall: A Tale Of Two Victorian Cooks intrudes on the private lives of both these women, whose careers eclipsed two very different halves of the Victorian era. While there are similarities between the two, their narratives explore class and background, highlight the social and economic contrasts of the nineteenth century, the ascension of the cookery industry in general and the burgeoning power of suffragism.

Very thorough book on Mrs Marshall and Mrs Beeton. It talks about their families, lives, and recipes. I have read Mrs Beeton's book. It was interesting to learn about their backstories.

NetGalley, Rebecca Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Emma Kay does a great job in writing this type of book, I enjoyed getting to meet these two cooks.

NetGalley, Kathryn McLeer

A detailed history of these two women. I knew a bit about Mrs Beeton, but hadn't heard of Mrs Marshall, so it was interesting to find out about her and about the context that the two women lived in.

NetGalley, Melanie Knight

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An absolutely fascinating, well-written and deeply-researched look into the lives and work of Isabella Beeton and Agnes Bertha Marshall, Victorian women who made names for themselves by writing about cookery and household management for an emerging middle class. I was familiar with (and own a cheap copy of) Mrs Beeton’s works, and was aware that she has been accused of plagiarism — turns out, that was more or less the norm back then, and seen much as we see “amplification” on social media today. Mrs. Marshall and her family were more entrepreneurial (and several decades after Mrs. Beeton, taking advantage of a freer society), establishing a cookery school and promoting their own kitchen equipment and ingredients.

Emma Kay’s book explores the Victorian era through the stories of these two women, highlighting how quickly society changed over the thirty years that separated them, the emergence of the suffragist movement — and how cooking and housekeeping themselves changed over that time.

NetGalley, Mo B

Such an interesting book about two (2) passionate women, ahead of their time in my humble opinion, whom probably most of us novice type cooks never heard of. This book tells of their lives, their families and even shares some terrific recipes. I have to say Agnes was my favorite of the two (2). I also enjoyed the authors writing style - was like she was just telling me their stories directly. The book even contains pictures which is always an added bonus for me!

NetGalley, Christine Cazeneuve

Besides the fact that this book made me hungry, I had fun reading about two women-- Isabella Beeton and Agnes Marshall--who both attributed major contributions to the field of cookbooks, recipes and overall hospitality/cuisine.

NetGalley, Samantha Armstrong

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

It was great to be able read the bio of Mrs Beeton and Mrs Marshall and to see the recipes that they used.

NetGalley, Abi Davies

About Emma Kay

Emma is a post-graduate historian and former senior museum worker. Now a food historian, author, and prolific collector of Kitchenalia, she is a member of The Guild of Food Writers. Her articles have appeared in publications including BBC History Magazine, The Daily Express, Daily Mail, Times Literary Supplement and The Victorian Review. She has featured on numerous national and international radio programmes and podcasts and contributed historic food research for several TV production companies.
During 2021 Emma cooked and presented a selection of historic dishes from the Regency era to accompany a new CTVC series for Channel 4 and was interviewed and filmed demonstrating Medieval cooking techniques for a documentary series on KBS-TV in South Korea.
In 2020 Emma created a Roman banquet and presented the origins and influences of Roman cooking for Channel 5 series Walking Britain’s Roman Roads.
At the end of 2019 Emma appeared as an expert contributor across several episodes of Channel 5 series, Britain’s Lost Battlefields.
In 2018 she appeared in a ten-part series for the BBC and Hungry Gap Productions, The Best Christmas Food Ever and on BBC Countryfile, co-presenting a feature exploring the heritage of the black pear with Anita Rani.
Published titles
Dining with the Georgians (Amberley Publishing, 2014), Dining with the Victorians (Amberley Publishing,2015), Cooking up History: Chefs of the Past (Prospect Books, 2017), Vintage Kitchenalia (Amberley Publishing,2017), More than a Sauce: A Culinary History of Worcestershire (Amberley Publishing,2018), Stinking Bishops and Spotty Pigs: A History of Gloucestershire's Food and Drink (Amberley Publishing, 2019).
A History of British Baking (Pen & Sword Books, 2020)
A Dark History of Chocolate (Pen & Sword Books, 2021)

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