Household Books Published in Britain: V3 - 1800-1874 (LH)


Original Printed Text:

'Household management and food texts, 1800-1900', Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, Volume 4, third edition, ed J. Shattock (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2000) col. 2735-2754.

This section of the bibliography is the least detailed partly because it was created for the format of the original printed text above. However, it has been enlarged and developed with help from archivist Adrian Emberley, and we look forward to hearing from readers who would like to contribute corrections, amendments and new items. The nineteenth century witnessed radical changes in the production of books, from the invention of the first steam press, rotary presses, stereotype, lithography, colour printing, and the shift away from rag paper – all of which contributed to lowering the cost of printed materials. These changes were accompanied by a revolution in the distribution of and audience for books and other print media such as journals and other periodical literature. This revolution went hand in hand with educational reform and the continued, slow movement toward enfranchisement for people of colour, for women, for the working classes.

From 1800 to 1874 the development of the women's magazine provides a context for the changes to books on food and drink that were published in this period. Margaret Beetham's work A Magazine of her own outlines many of the shifts and startling developments in the period that could be summarized as the emergence of the bourgeois middle class and the lady of leisure who filled the hours of her day with reading, with small meals, with fashion, and with the running of the household through her servants. This class of woman was an expectant audience that fueled the ensuring surge in print publications aimed at the housewife, including her knowledge about and purchasing power for increasingly varied kinds of food and drink. By the 1870s women's magazines were well on their way to the multi-million copy/week production typical of today.

This education also involved gaining knowledge about domestic medicine, the treatment of servants, etiquette, the care of the sick and the elderly, and the nurturing of children. At the same time it required a basic familiarity with quickly changing household technology, from the introduction of gas cooking to the dominance of electricity, from water carried into the household to pumped and running water, hot and cold, from beer and small beer to tea drinking, and from household preserving and conservation to shop-bought and canned goods. While this section of the bibliography focuses on food and drink, it does so within the broader context of the rapidly widening global trade in foodstuffs, food fashions, and greater understanding of the contributions of food and drink to health, lifestyle and welfare.

  • Hunter, Lynette, Margaret Beetham, Danielle Fuller et al (1994) The Victorian Periodicals Hypertext. Oxford: CTI Centre for Texts; University of California Davis, Academic Technology Services, 2010.
  • Beetham, Margaret (1996) A magazine of her own: Domesticity and desire in the woman's magazine 1800-1914 . London: Routledge.