Household Books Published in Britain: 1475-1914
This database represents work by many bibliographers and social historians over the past three decades, who have given permission to use their original research in the creation of a resource for people interested in English-language printed books related to food, drink and diet, and their associated economics, technologies, science and sociocultural history.
The Mondavi Center for Food and Wine hosts this database as a public service, and encourages feedback to expand, correct, amend and in other ways improve the materials.
We are indebted to the University of California, Davis for support for this project from Chancellor Katehi, from the Provost's Office, from Academic Technology Services and Charlie Turner without whom this work could not have been imagined, from the Undergraduate Instructional Program, and from the Davis Honors Challenge students who produced the 'Guide' to using the database aimed at young scholars and the general public. The archivist Adrian Emberley expertly shepherded much of the material toward digital format.
We are particularly grateful to Prospect Books, currently run by publisher and food writer Tom Jaine, for permission to use materials from work initially researched and published by Alan Davidson in the 1980s. Alan Davidson worked directly with each of the bibliographers, inspiring us all and giving us the encouragement to conduct a massive project. Tom Jaine says:
When Alan and Jane Davidson founded Prospect Books and the food-studies journal Petits Propos Culinaires in 1979 they were anxious to provide the fledgling discipline of food history a British voice. Their programme, so far as they thought of it in those terms, included the reprinting of cookery books that had long since become treasured items in auction and rare-book catalogues, the publication of books about the food and cookery of countries not usually embraced by mainstream publishers, and the provision of 'hard-core' materials that might put the discipline on a sound foundation. The bibliographies were the finest examples of this last strand in their thinking. Particularly as food history in those early years concentrated on cookbooks and recipes, perhaps at the expense of a wider perspective on the role of food and cooking in society and culture at large, so the bibliographies were a lynchpin in furthering this aspect of things.
Prospect Books (and PPC), although now under different ownership, have not forgotten their original purpose, even if some types of books, such as the original printed bibliographies, are now less marketable than they were in the 1980s. The present catalogue continues to explore aspects of food history as well as sometimes showcasing the food cultures of other nations. It continues, too, to strive for a balance between the academic and the informed amateur. Its full range may be best explored at https://prospectbooks.co.uk