Martha Lloyd’s Household Book: The Original Manuscript from Jane Austen’s Kitchen by Julienne Gehrer is the book that I’m putting at the top of my wish list this year. I’d like to read the history of Martha Lloyd’s book and look through its recipes, but I’m also curious about other the instructions for other household products, such as varnish for tables and recipes for whitening your stockings!
As many of my readers know, I’ve always been quite taken with Jane Austen and Martha Lloyd’s lifelong friendship, and it’s particularly fascinating to me that Martha was known for her cookery when she lived with the Austen women in Chawton. If you haven’t seen or heard of this book yet, here are some of the highlights.
Peek through the kitchen window to experience day-to-day life at Chawton Cottage, the home where Jane Austen wrote and published her famous novels.
Martha Lloyd first befriended a young Jane Austen in 1789 and later lived with Jane, her sister Cassandra, and their mother at the cottage in Chawton, Hampshire, where Jane wrote and revised her novels. Eventually, Martha married Jane’s brother Francis Austen, making her an authority on day-to-day life in the Austen family.
Martha Lloyd’s Household Book is a remarkable artifact, a manuscript cookbook featuring recipes and remedies handwritten over thirty years. Austen fans will spot the many connections between Martha’s book and Jane Austen’s writing, including dishes such as white soup from Pride and Prejudice. Readers will also learn the author’s favorite foods, such as toasted cheese and mead. The family, culinary, and literary connections detailed in the introductory chapters of this work give a fascinating perspective on the time and manner in which both women lived.
Passed down through the Austen family, the Household Book offers unprecedented access into the family home. In this first facsimile publication, Martha’s notebook is reproduced in color, accompanied by a complete transcription and detailed annotations.
Jane Austen’s Domestic Life
In a fascinating article by Julienne Gehrer titled, “How an 18th-Century Cookbook Offers Glimpses of Jane Austen’s Domestic Life,” she shares this:
“Martha Lloyd’s Household Book is one of the few items we have from Jane Austen’s closest friend. As Martha was an integral part of Jane’s life, her recipe book is a highlight of the collection at Jane Austen’s House in Hampshire. It is fitting that the book resides at Chawton Cottage, a place both women called home. Much of what we know about Martha is through Jane’s letters and a few family reminiscences. But if we reread what has been written about Jane Austen we can catch glimpses of Martha Lloyd, who was often a figure in the background or just nearby. Included as a natural preface to Martha’s household book is an extensive biography of Martha Lloyd. Knowing more of Martha’s life leads us to a greater understanding of the deep friendship between Martha and Jane, a friendship that also included Jane’s sister Cassandra.” – Julienne Gehrer, Literary Hub
Gehrer’s article is full of information about Austen’s home and domestic life. I enjoyed reading it very much. You can read the rest of her wonderful article here.
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What’s on your wish list this year? What books are you hoping to read before the year ends?
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