The English Housewife


Whilst doing some research on the Elizabethan period I came upon a wonderful book called ‘The English Housewife’, written by Gervase Markham (1568?-1637).  The book is full of advice for the more affluent housewife such as, ‘Of Physical Surgery’; ‘Of distillations and their virtues, and of perfuming’; ‘Of Wines’; ‘Of Wool, Hemp, Flax and Cloth’, and many more.  Although this book was published in the very early 17th Century (around 1615) it would have been relevant in the Elizabethan era.

The chapter which I found interesting was ‘Of Cookery’.  Markham sets out what an English housewife should know about cookery and how she should go about it.

To speak then of the outward and active knowledges which belong to our English housewife, I hold the first and most principal to be a perfect skill and knowledge in cookery, together with all the secrets belonging to the same, because it…

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‘The Whole Duty of a Woman’ in 1737

Recipes from 1737

All Things Georgian

Well, who would have believed it, in 1737 a book was written outlining how a woman should behave!  It is a fascinating little book as combined with The Duty of a Virgin, a Wife and a Widow we have cookery recipes, modesty, religion and best of all ‘a wife’s behaviour to a drunkard’.

It could possibly have been a Georgian equivalent of a ‘Mrs Beeton’ maybe.  The book was written to provide a woman with guidance about how to live her life during all three stages and appears to have been written from a female perspective although whether it was actually written by a woman seems unclear.  In all likelihood it was written by a man and there appear to be some suggestions that it could have been written by a William Kenrick, but whether correct or not we will never know as the book had no author…

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