I am very pleased to announce that my second book, a biography of the 18th century cookery writer, entrepreneur and Manchester legend Elizabeth Raffald will be published in the UK on 28 February 2023. It is called Before Mrs Beeton: Elizabeth Raffald, England’s Most Influential Housekeeper and is published by Pen & Sword History. North American readers: I’m afraid you’ll after wait until 28 April before you can get your hands on a copy. Rest of world: please check with your favourite bookshop.
Before I tell you more about the book, I thought I’d let you know that if you pre-order via Pen & Sword’s website (so there’s not long left) you can get 20% off the cover price. The book is, of course, available from other booksellers. I will be selling some copies too, which of course will be signed by Yours Truly.
I’ll be posting all sorts about Elizabeth and 18th century food throughout March on the blog and on social media, so if you don’t follow me already on social media, now is the time to do so. I am @neilbuttery on Twitter, dr_neil_buttery on Instagram and my Facebook discussion group can be viewed here.
The book charts Elizabeth’s many achievements and life events, the best known being the publication of her influential cookery book The Experienced English Housekeeper in 1769 – but there are many, many others. Her life was a dramatic one: starting life in domestic service, she rose to fame and fortune and transformed Manchester’s business community, before a tumultuous fall. Her book outlived her, but its popularity had a great rise and fall too.
I discovered Elizabeth via Jane Grigson, and it is these two food writers who have been my biggest, and most constant inspiration through 15 years of researching and cooking British food, and I am so happy to be the one to write Elizabeth’s biography.
Mrs Beeton’s name is in the title for a variety of reasons, the main one of which being that it is Elizabeth – a full century before Beeton and her book – who defined what we think of today as traditional British food, not Isabella Beeton, yet it is Beeton who is placed on that pedestal.
To find out more about the book, listen to this recent podcast about Elizabeth, her life, and more about why Mrs Beeton has a lot to answer for!