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Today's guest columnist, Carrie Turansky, says writing is her first passion, and after publishing her first book in 2005, she has since published seventeen more. Carrie's latest, Shine Like the Dawn, is a historical novel, set in Edwardian England.
Carrie and her husband, Scott have five children, and four beautiful grandchildren. When she's not writing, her passions are enjoying time with family, working outside in her flower gardens, or walking around the lake near her home in central New Jersey.
To say hello and welcome Carrie Turansky to the book club email, firstname.lastname@example.org
My Edwardian Mentor: Isabella Beeton
by Carrie Turansky
When I began writing English historical novels I wanted to learn more about the role of women and how they managed their homes in Victorian and Edwardian times. Searching the Internet, I discovered Mrs. Isabella Beeton, the author of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, and I knew I'd found a treasure!
"As with the commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so it is with the mistress of a house." With those words Isabella Beeton opens the first chapter of her book, which offered advice to women on a wide range of subjects including childcare, fashion, animal husbandry, medicines, cleanliness, frugality, economy, and the management of servants as well as a great number of recipes.
Isabella is quite and interesting woman! She grew up in a blended family with twenty-one siblings, which was a huge family even for Victorian times. Since she was the oldest, she developed her skills of babysitting and household management, and that gave her the experience and confidence to write her famous book in her early twenties.
When she was nineteen she met Samuel Beeton, a rich and handsome young book and magazine publisher. Samuel and Isabella married in 1856, and they became a successful and prolific team. Isabella wrote many articles about cooking and household management for Samuel's publications, including a column for The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine.
In October of 1861, those articles were collected and published as a single volume. The book's official title was: The Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady's-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.--also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: With a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort edited by Mrs. Isabella Beeton. Now that's quite a title!
It became the most famous English domestic manual ever published, selling more than 60,000 copies in its first year of publication, and almost two million by 1868.
Isabella's insight and the information she recorded in her book have given me a fascinating inside look at what mattered most to women during that era, and it helped me portray my female characters in a realistic way for today's readers.
I'm glad I "met" Isabella Beeton. I might not have servants to oversee, but her recipe for Baked Apple Custard is the best!
Please say hello to Carrie, email@example.com
* To see photos of Mrs. Isabella Beeton and Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, visit the DearReader Facebook page.
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.