Isabella Beeton (c. 1860)
Isabella Beeton was to the middle of nineteenth century England, what Martha Stewart is to late twentieth century America- and even more! For Mrs. Beeton was not just the author of the famous "bible of housewives" "Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management", she was also a journalist and fashion writer. In her lifetime very few people new the details of her upbringing, marriage or death- Mrs. Beeton was what we would now call "a brand".
"Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management", 1861
The public was unaware that a woman in her early 20's was their go-to for all things domestic, from what to make for the perfect wedding supper if your daughter was marrying up the social ladder to how to hire and fire a parlor maid. In her short life Isabella Beeton went from comfort to poverty to comfort and wealth and back to poverty again- she died a few days after giving birth to her fourth child. She was only 28. The BBC documentary on her life, narrated by Sophie Dahl is a gem. Get to know this extraordinary woman- who almost singlehandedly created the world of Anglo-American middle-class domesticity- which remains the psychological bedrock of how millions still interpret the concept of HOME.