British Housewife


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[003900] Bradley, Martha. The British Housewife: Or, the Cook, Housekeeper’s, and Gardiner’s Companion Etc. Etc. London: S. Crowder and H. Woodgate. First Edition. 8vo. Half Morocco and Cloth. Good+. Two volumes complete – Volume One – [2], 3-752pp and Volume Two – [2], 469pp, [33], plates, n.d. but c.1756. Modern crushed half morocco by Sangorski and Sutcliffe, raised bands, spine in six panels, title lettered directly to second panel, author and volume to third, year (1755) to foot

Externally very slightly rubbed, but generally very good. Internally the pages are untrimmed, there is a small worm track to 5B4 of volume one, which also has a few corners lightly discoloured; Volume two is often lightly stained (not affecting sense), there are small work tracks to the top margin of signatures Q, R, Z, Aa, Bb and Gg, with a small piece missing from the bottom margin of Xx1 (not affecting text), but generally fairly clean

Book label of Pamela Lister to front pastedowns. With an engraved frontispiece and seven engraved plates, by B. Cole, probably Benjamin Cole IV (see Alexander, A Biographical Dictionary of British and Irish Engravers 1714-1820, pages 219-221)

Arranged by month, with marketing and providing, cookery, confectionary, brewing and distilling, the management of graden and orchard, and some (dubious) medical advice (see Oxford’s note below). Mainly cookery, with a notable English bent. The author, (fl. 1740’s-1755), describes herself as being “late of Bath”, with the work “being the result of upwards of Thirty Years Experience”

The bibliographies vary in their probable dates of publication, from 1755 to c.1800, c.1756 seems the most likely, as there was an advert in The Scots Magazine, announcing its publication in weekly parts, in the January of that year. There was a total of forty-two parts, and the part numbers are given in the signatures. Lehmann in the ODNB, agrees with 1756, noting that it was “was published as a part-work from January to October 1756 and eventually came out in book form in 1758”

She goes on to state that “the book is a complete manual for the housewife, the cook, the housekeeper, the gardener, and the farrier, with monthly sections of advice and recipes which cover every aspect of domestic management in the middle of the eighteenth century … Martha Bradley is one of the most important cookery writers of the eighteenth century, not only because her book is one of the most comprehensive of its kind but also because she discusses the merits and difficulties of the dishes, gives information on European as well as English cookery, and tells the reader what is old-fashioned and what is up to date. In an age when most cookery books were simply compilations Mrs Bradley’s book stands out for the author’s personal involvement in her recipes” (ODNB)

ESTC T111915. Bitting, pages 54-55; Cagle 574; McLean, page 11; Oxford, pages 104-105, noting that ‘powdered earthworms are still recommended for the ague’; Simon BG 236; Vicaire, page 111; Wellcome II:227