Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management

I got Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management last year and now, as I was studying the period, I thought it would be a good time to read it. Well, this is a fascinating book, offering a really good insight into what the middle classes treasured at that time. I found some of the things mentioned in the book at least surprising.

This book is known as a cookbook and Mrs. Beeton was as known to Victorians as Mary Berry is to us today. Although poor Mrs. Beeton did not get the chance to reach a respectable age, dying at 28, in childbed. Her book is on household management and she talks about all sorts of things, how to deal with servants, what each role of the domestic servants is, with plenty of details. For a newly married middle-class woman, her book must have been extremely valuable. Furthermore, she talks about child-care and even poisons.

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management

I’ve included the book in the cookbooks section of the blog mostly for lack of a better category, but this entices me to talk about her recipes. I’ve tried one and here is the link to it, if you fancy knowing more. My version is abridged.

Each section in the recipe chapters starts with a short description, of a few pages. She lists the ingredients, which was something new in a cookbook, continues with the mode of preparation, before giving the time needed to prepare the dish. On top of that, she gives the average cost, how many people it served, and when it was seasonable. Some recipes, like the macaroni that you can see in the picture, are followed by a short description of the ingredient.

For us this is how all recipes should look like, but, when it was first published in 1861, it was innovative and new. I showed a few recipes to my husband and he found her short descriptions at the end of the recipes just as interesting as I did.

Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management

Details about the picture: the macaroni are after a recipe by Mrs Beeton’s.
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Oxford University Press
Year it was published: 2008 (first published in 1861)
Format: Paperback
Genre(s): Cookbook
Pages: 629

About the author: Isabella Mary Beeton (née Mayson) is universally known as Mrs Beeton. Born on 12 March 1836, she was the English author of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, and is one of the most famous cookery writers.
Of the 1,112 pages, over 900 contained recipes, such that another popular name for the volume is “Mrs Beeton’s Cookbook”. Most of the recipes were illustrated with coloured engravings, and it was the first book to show recipes in a format that is still used today. It was intended as a guide of reliable information for the aspirant middle classes. Mrs Beeton is perhaps described better as its compiler and editor than as its author, many of the passages clearly being not her own words.
She died on 60 February 1865.
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5 thoughts on “Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management”

  • It’s amazing how much Mrs Beeton managed to do in such a tragically short life. She was a true revolutionary. I have a cook book called Mrs Beeton How to Cook (anniversary edition), but it’s a modernised version. Your lovely review reminds me to take it out and have a look for inspiration.

  • Lovely post, Anca! I’m quite interested in household management. I’ve never read something vintage in this genre, and it sounds like a worthwhile read. There’s something idyllic about taking a step back into time with a good book. I read Mary’s Household Tips and Tricks last year which I would recommend. Happy reading! 🙂 xx


  • Hi! Anca,

    I can recall my grandmother having a full range of Mrs. Beeton’s books and recipe pamphlets on her shelves, although as a child I was never allowed to touch them. I have no idea what happened to them when she went to be cared for by her daughter in the US, as her house and contents were cleared quite quickly. I would love to have been able to read through them.

    My own mother always swore by the Good Housekeeping cookbook, which she then passed on to me when I got married. I used it for a good number of years, before it became very outdated, so my husband decided to clear it from our shelves, unbeknown to me!

    I really don’t have much luck with these vintage cookbooks 🙂

    Thanks for sharing 🙂


    • It’s a shame your husband disposed of it. You can find it, for free, online, but I bought it because I prefer paper books.

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