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The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton

(article, Caroline Cummins)

Hughes, a specialist in the lives and mores of the Victorian era, delves into domesticity with her comprehensive biography of Isabella Beeton, the wife, mother, and “editrix” behind the hugely influential Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Published in 1861, the book was a hodgepodge: plagiarized recipes from earlier cookbooks, charts for maintaining a household budget, tips on how to behave as a member of the emerging middle class. Readers have always assumed Beeton was a frumpy, dumpy dowager; it’s a shock to discover that she was pretty, smart, and, thanks to her husband, dead at age 28 of syphilis. Hughes paints a detailed, witty portrait of a woman and an era that together invented our modern idea of the housewife.

p(bio). [ "Caroline Cummins"] is the managing editor of Culinate.

reference-image, l