Mrs Beeton presents: Beeton’s Book of Household Management in its culinary context  – Annie Gray

Beeton’s Book of Household Management is probably the most well-known cookery book ever published in England. In print continuously, running through tens of editions, since 1861, until recently it was a staple item in any self-respecting kitchen. However, while later editions are excellent, the 1861 original is deeply flawed, with plagiarism its major feature. This lecture, which is delivered in costume, and starts in character, explores the context in which the BOHM was published, covering dining styles, the look, feel and taste of food, and the functioning of mid-Victorian kitchens. It looks at Beeton’s remarkably short life (she died aged 28) and her rather more enduring legacy to the culinary arts.

Annie Gray

A food historian with degrees from Oxford (MA), York (MA) and Liverpool (PhD). Her PhD looked at changes in dining in the nineteenth century, while her masters was in archaeology. She works across the heritage industry, as a consultant on food and dining, as well as the use of live interpretation and the presentation of sites to the public. She lectures widely, including to Historic Royal Palaces, #1 Royal Crescent Bath and York’s Fairfax House, on subjects ranging from the development of afternoon tea to the history of cake. She is the author of a number of both academic and popular articles, working also as a costumed interpreter, representing cooks and kitchenmaids in the Georgian and Victorian periods. She leads a team at Audley End House (English Heritage), cooking and interacting with the public in the guise of servants in 1881. Increasingly in demand from the media, she has appeared on programmes such as The Great British Bake Off, and as a historical advisor to the recent Coffee and Calf’s Head (BBC4). She is a regular panellist on Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet.