March 4, 2013

Isabella Beeton's Book of Household Management

What moved me, in the first instance, to attempt a work like this, was the discomfort and suffering which I had seen brought upon men and women by household mismanagement. I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife's badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways. I will present a few tips from my book to ease the burden of today's busy homemaker.


Silk handkerchiefs require to be washed alone. When they contain snuff, they should be soaked in lukewarm water two or three hours, rinsed, soaked in cold water for an hour, soaped in lukewarm water and rinsed in salted water.

 After items are mangled, they should also be ironed in the folds and gathers; dinner napkins smoothed over, also tablecloths, pillowcases and sometimes sheets. The bands of flannel petticoats and shoulder straps to flannel waistcoats must also undergo the same process.


Brick ovens are generally considered the best adapted for baking bread: these should be heated with wood faggots, and then swept and mopped out to cleanse them for the reception of the bread.


Cold water, a clean scrubbing brush and a willing arm are all that are required to make bedroom floors look white.


After having lighted the kitchen fire, carefully brush the range, and clean the hearth, proceed to prepare for breakfast. Thoroughly rinse the kettle, and, fill it with fresh water, put it on the fire to boil. Then go to the breakfast-room or parlour, and there make all things ready for the breakfast of the family.

Gentle Readers, of course it is most desirable to direct these instructions to your housemaid rather than you do them yourself. However if circumstance makes it necessary for you to follow them then I hope you will rise to the occasion with a smile on your face.

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