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Why I love Mrs Beeton

One of my favourite historical periods is Victorian Britain. If I was a Lady in the Victorian Era, Mrs Beeton's book of Household Management would have been my Bible. But, as I'm in 2008, my interpretation of Mrs Beeton is a lot different from her contemporaries (it's probably a lot different from everyone's interpretation).

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management isn't merely "a classic of domestic literature" with a cookery book, it's an informative and intelligent study of household life. From what to equip your kitchen with, to how to write invites to dinner parties, Mrs Beeton tells us etiquette, but she also goes beyond the surface. Giving the history of the development of the kitchen, to how animals are reared and slaughtered, Mrs Beeton was more than just the Mistress of her household: she was a pioneer, and quite the educator.

Her book opens as follows:

AS WITH THE COMMANDER OF AN ARMY, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path. Of all those acquirements, which more particularly belong to the feminine character, there are none which take a higher rank, in our estimation, than such as enter into a knowledge of household duties; for on these are perpetually dependent the happiness, comfort, and well-being of a family.

In this opinion we are borne out by the author of “The Vicar of Wakefield,” who says: “The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron, are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queens. She who makes her husband and her children happy, who reclaims the one from vice and trains up the other to virtue, is a much greater character than ladies described in romances, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind with shafts from their quiver, or their eyes.

And this is why I truly love Mrs B - it's the way she compares her life to be equal to a man's life. It's more than that actually, it's her quote from The Vicar of Wakefield that gives me the sense she really was a modern day chick lit sort of women (which is why I like her) - she reclaims her husband from vice - she wasn't merely a feeble romantic waiting in her ivory tower to be saved. Honestly, this woman is a heroine of the Victorian times. She had sass, sass and a household to run, and it makes for a very endearing combination, believe me.

The book is peppered with gems from Mrs Beeton - gems which more than excuse the fact she is writing about domestic life. Plus, it's not at all stuffy - surprising for the times. Mrs B rocks! Please tell me there are some fans out there?!

It's my opinion every household should have this book. Watch the clip below to see the spirit and sass of Mrs B I'm on about (I hope you see what I mean!):

4 comments:

  1. I really like your blog!
    I especially like all your posts on how to handle rejection. Keep trynig =)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you very much, and I will - I am determined to make this Pipe Dream a reality, and soon! :0)

    ReplyDelete
  3. OMG

    a professor introduced me to this book in my Victorian History class. I love Mrs. Beeton.

    this professor also told us that he thought of himself as our Mrs. Beeton. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yey - another Mrs B fan! :0)

    ReplyDelete

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