Friday, 8 June 2012

Hannah Glasse's cookbook

Hannah Glasse was christened on 28th March 1708 at St Andrews church in Holborn. Yet while her father, Isaac Allgood, was a landowner from Northumberland who had recently married one Hannah Clark, her mother is said to have been the widow Hannah Reynolds. Scandal! Young Hannah was removed to Hexham in the north-east of England and brought up by the Allgoods with their legitimate children. In 1724 she married an Irish soldier, John Glasse, and returned to London. Her identity as the author of one of the most popular of 18th-century cookery books was not finally confirmed until 1938. The book, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy was published by subscription in 1747. It did not reveal its authorship, except generally with the signature By a Lady, which permitted an erroneous claim that it had been written by a man! Yet is was highly popular, and a second edition was soon printed. The same year as the book was written, John Glasse died, and Hannah set herself up as as a dressmaker in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, in partnership with her eldest daughter Margaret. Unfortunately in 1754 she became bankrupt, though her stock was not auctioned as it was all held in Margaret’s name who continued to trade. She was, however, forced to auction her most prized asset, the copyright for The Art of Cookery. Plagiarized editions of her book became popular in the American colonies, and she unsuccessfully tried to repeat her success with The Servants Directory and The Compleat Confectioner. She died on 1st September 1770, aged 62.

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