Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Serious Maintenance of Middle-Class Appearances

"Universally acknowledged to be the best cook book ever written" (Eric Quayle), Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management sold 60,000 copies in its first year and well over 2 million by the end of the decade.

Before Martha Stewart there was Isabella Beeton (1836-1865)

Mrs. Beeton essentially set the domestic bar for middle-class domesticity with her massive book on cookery and house-keeping. Covering an enormous range of subjects, the good middle-class woman could consult Mrs. Beeton on any subject relating to the maintenance of the dulce domum and the appearance of perfect respectability, refined gentility and matronly duty.

But who was Mrs. Beeton?

~The Visuality of the Victorian Repast,
according to Mrs. Beeton~ or
What to serve at your haute bourgeoisie
luncheon or dinner party:

English dinner party, c. 1865

The Calling Card: no respectable middle-class caller is complete without one!

Read more about the ritual of the afternoon "call"

Five-o-clock tea in the parlor of a fashionable Parisian hostess, 1893.
In England tea-time was an hour earlier.

English couple dancing, c. 1840

The ability to dance well was an important tool for the maintainence of social ties and for social networking. Read more about dance and 19th C. sociability

No comments:

Post a Comment