Isabella Mayson Beeton (1836 – 1865) was a remarkable woman who accomplished many things during the 28 years of her short life. She was an English journalist, editor and writer. Her name is particularly associated with her first book, the 1861 work Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. Isabella married Samuel Orchart Beeton, an ambitious publisher and magazine editor. Isabella, being a good help-mate, was not content not only with homemaking and parenting duties, she established herself as an asset to his publishing business. She wrote and published articles for magazines on the topic of household management and cooking.
Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management
The book was a huge volume of over 1,112 pages. The book’s content included reliable information and advice, recipes, and engravings. She is credited with being the first to show recipes with ingredients being listed at the beginning, the common format that is still used today. The book’s contents included information about everything needed to run a successful home for the middle classes.
A well-written cookbook it included only recipes that the she and her assistants had personally tested. Every recipe published was tried in Isabella’s kitchen first. If she didn’t make it herself, her cook or kitchen maid prepared it for her. It was important to her that each recipe be practical economically and she was always careful to include how many servings a recipe made. Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management was a best-seller. By 1868, more than two million copies had been sold.
The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, September 1861
Of Course, Instructions for Making Tea
Being a guide for all aspects of homemaking, the book included valuable information about the making and service of tea. Mrs. Beeton’s instructions are below:
“There is very little art in making good tea; if the water is boiling, and there is no sparing of the fragrant leaf, the beverage will invariably be good. The old-fashioned plan of allowing a teaspoonful to each person, and one over, is still practiced. Warm the teapot with boiling water. . .for two or three minutes. . .then pour it away. Put in the tea, pour in one-half to three-quarters pint of ‘boiling’ water, close the lid, and let it stand for the tea to draw from five to ten minutes; then fill up the pot with water. The tea will be quite spoiled unless made with water that is ‘actually boiling’, as the leaves will not open and the flavor will not be extracted from them.”
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