Beeton, Isabella. The Best of Mrs Beeton's Kitchen Garden. Rigel Publications: London, UK 2005. 8vo SC 250pp. Indent
Isabella Beeton (born London, 1836; died London 1865) was the eldest of a family of 21 brothers, sisters, half-brothers, step-brothers and step-sisters. Catering on that scale may well have been the basis for what was to become the biggest-selling cookery book of all time.
She was born Isabella Mayson in London in 1836 and, with her family, was brought up in the Grandstand at Epsom where her step-father, Henry Dorling, was clerk to the racecourse.
She later went to Germany where she was educated at Heidelberg. Soon after her return to England and at the age of 20 she married the publisher Sam Beeton.
A year later, in 1857, Isabella began the colossal task of compiling Beeton's Book of Household Management. With the painstaking care she paid to every detail it took her four years to complete.
It first appeared in 1859 in monthly parts as a supplement to her husband's Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine and was very popular. Such was its acclaim that in 1861 Sam Beeton published the complete work, bound into one volume and sold it at a price of 7s. 6d.
Sadly, in 1865, and aged only 28, Isabella Beeton died of puerperal fever after the birth of her fourth child. Sam Beeton fell heavily into debt and was forced to sell his business to a rival publishing company. He died in 1877 at the age of 46.