FYI October 01, 2018

On This Day


1861 – Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is published, going on to sell 60,000 copies in its first year and remaining in print until the present day
Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, also published as Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book, is an extensive guide to running a household in Victorian Britain, edited by Isabella Beeton and first published as a book in 1861. It had previously been published in parts. It was originally entitled Beeton’s Book of Household Management, as one of the series of guide-books published by her husband, Samuel Beeton. The recipes were highly structured, in contrast to earlier cookbooks. It was illustrated with many monochrome and colour plates.

Although Mrs Beeton died in 1865, the book continued to be a best-seller. The first editions after her death contained an obituary notice, but this was removed from later editions, allowing readers to imagine that every word was written by an experienced Mrs Beeton personally. This fiction was expressed in one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, where a character declares: “Mrs Beeton must have been the finest housekeeper in the world, therefore Mr. Beeton must have been the happiest and most comfortable man”.[1]

Many of the recipes were copied from the most successful cookery books of the day including Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families, Elizabeth Raffald’s The Experienced English Housekeeper, Marie-Antoine Carême’s Le Pâtissier royal parisien, Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Maria Eliza Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery, and the works of Charles Elmé Francatelli. This practice of Mrs Beeton’s has in modern times repeatedly been described as plagiarism.

The book expanded steadily in length, until by 1907 it reached 74 chapters and over 2000 pages. Nearly two million copies were sold by 1868, and it remains in print (as of 2016). Between 1875 and 1914 it was probably the most often consulted cookery book. Mrs Beeton has been compared on the strength of the book with modern domestic goddesses like Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith.

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Born On This Day

1847 – Annie Besant, English-Indian activist and author (d. 1933)
Annie Besant, née Wood (1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist, theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer, orator, and supporter of both Irish and Indian self-rule.

In 1867, Annie, at age 20, married Frank Besant, a clergyman, and they had two children. However, Annie’s increasingly anti-religious views led to their legal separation in 1873.[1] She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society (NSS), as well as a writer, and a close friend of Charles Bradlaugh. In 1877 they were prosecuted for publishing a book by birth control campaigner Charles Knowlton. The scandal made them famous, and Bradlaugh was subsequently elected M.P. for Northampton in 1880.

Thereafter, she became involved with union actions, including the Bloody Sunday demonstration and the London matchgirls strike of 1888. She was a leading speaker for both the Fabian Society and the Marxist Social Democratic Federation (SDF). She was also elected to the London School Board for Tower Hamlets, topping the poll, even though few women were qualified to vote at that time.

In 1890 Besant met Helena Blavatsky, and over the next few years her interest in theosophy grew, whilst her interest in secular matters waned. She became a member of the Theosophical Society and a prominent lecturer on the subject. As part of her theosophy-related work, she travelled to India. In 1898 she helped establish the Central Hindu College, and in 1922 she helped establish the Hyderabad (Sind) National Collegiate Board in Mumbai, India.[2] In 1902, she established the first overseas Lodge of the International Order of Co-Freemasonry, Le Droit Humain. Over the next few years she established lodges in many parts of the British Empire. In 1907 she became president of the Theosophical Society, whose international headquarters were, by then, located in Adyar, Madras, (Chennai).

She also became involved in politics in India, joining the Indian National Congress. When World War I broke out in 1914, she helped launch the Home Rule League to campaign for democracy in India, and dominion status within the British Empire. This led to her election as president of the India National Congress, in late 1917. In the late 1920s, Besant travelled to the United States with her protégé and adopted son Jiddu Krishnamurti, who she claimed was the new Messiah and incarnation of Buddha. Krishnamurti rejected these claims in 1929.[1] After the war, she continued to campaign for Indian independence and for the causes of theosophy, until her death in 1933.

She started the central Hindu school in Benares as a chief means of achieving her objective.





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