London, Bath & Edinburgh: J. Marshall... . First Thus. Octavo measuring 114 x 178mm. 16 pages. Half calf over marbled boards bound to style, with gilt and red morocco label to spine. Light scattered foxing throughout, with a paper flaw affecting a few words of text on pages 13-14. Overall an exceptionally pleasing copy of this rare cookery, published by Hannah More to make nutritious eating more accessible to the less fortunate. While ESTC reports an earlier 1795 edition printed by J. Evans, the present work bears the first edition issue points for the first Marshall edition, including "Religi-" in the second line of the imprint. ESTC and Spinney note that there is no priority between the present one penny imprint and copies of the same issue bearing one penny plus additional prices. Rare in all its forms, no copy of the Cottage Cook has appeared at auction, with this as the only one on the current market; and ESTC lists 8 known copies of this printing in the U.K. and U.S.
Abolitionist, educational activist, and social equality advocate Hannah More is one of the most famed of the Blue Stockings. Dedicated to using her writing as a means for improving conditions across race, class, and gender in England; and she developed a relationship with the Cheap Repository from 1795-1798 to produce affordable and accessible works that could assist non-elite readers. Among them was the present work, which aimed to help working class women run efficient, economical kitchens that could provide nutritious food to their families. Presented in More's signature narrative style, the cookery is framed by the story of Mrs. Jones, who "was liberal to the poor" but whose "money was often ill bestowed" because she did not take the time to consider the intricacies of domestic economy. In the pages that follow, More uses Mrs. Jones' story to illustrate the importance of a self-sufficient home. Rather than buying her bread, Mrs. Jones learns, for example, "with the poor women to bake large brown loaves at home" especially "when wheat grew cheaper." By page 14, Mrs. Jones has pulled her household in order, and readers are encouraged to "go and do likewise!" by reading the collection of recipes included in the final two pages, which include basics dishes of beef and herring. An important example of More's commitment to helping improve women's lives across class divides.
Feminist Companion 760. The Life of Hannah More, 275-277. ESTC N594874. ESTC T34202. Spinney 3, 48. (Item #2656)