Thursday, March 21, 2024

Mrs. Beeton


Happy Thursday!

I started reading the above book last Sunday.  I'm enjoying it but it is such a detailed book that I'm reading it slowly.

You're probably asking, "Who is Mrs. Beeton?"

She was a British woman (married to publisher Sam Beeton) who became basically the Martha Stewart of Victorian England.  Her book,  Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management was a staple to the burgeoning middle class on cooking, servant management and just about anything else you can imagine.  The book was published in 1861.

I originally became intrigued with Mrs. Beeton when I read about a movie that features Anna Madley (Mrs. Hall in the current PBS show All Creatures Great and Small).  I'd like to see the movie but I decided to read the book first.

It hasn't disappointed me.  I'll probably write more about the book after I finish it but some of what I liked just from the preface:

"This burden of choice--the worry about what your sofa says about you--remains an oppressive force in American and British culture today.  Ironically, the range of manufactured goods available has become so over-whelming (and yet, in some essential way so same and safe) that we are currently seeing a revival of interest in craft skills.  

Consumers who could well afford to buy a quilt for their bed from the Ralph Lauren Homeware Collection are learning how to do patchwork.  Martha Stewart, meanwhile instructs a constituency made up of bankers and doctors as well as full-time homemakers how to make their own Christmas wreaths.  All kinds of lost or degraded domestic silks--from knitting to fretwork, cooking to dress-making--are being rediscovered by a generation used to being able to order up anything it wants at the click of a computer mouse."

The hardback edition of the biography is on Amazon for half the price of the paperback right now.  But be warned, this book is chock full of information and sometimes the descriptions and backgrounds of characters is not unlike a Russian novel.

Still it's an interesting insight to the domestic arts and society. 

And here's another irony for you:  Joann's Fabrics has filed chapter 11 to prevent bankruptcy.  Economists are saying that the downswing in sales is due to a lack of interest in crafting right now.  I wonder how much the quality of the fabric and the imported decor has to do with it.  Your thoughts?

Have a safe and happy day!


  1. How interesting that there was a "Martha Stewart" in the 1860s! I saw that about Joann's and was saddened, but apparently they will remain open. I used to think their fabric was really poor, but the past couple of years I have been quite impressed with several of their lines. They are soft and sew up nicely and remain soft after laundering. So I shop for fabric there pretty regularly, especially backings. Their fabric side always seems busy to me, but the crafts side not so much.

  2. I made two tied flannel quilts for Christmas last year and Joanne's had the best selection. I go there to buy thread, ribbon, buttons, and yarn. And there are so many who can only afford Joanne's fabric. I think there's a place for it but it needs a revamping.