Suggestions for Further Reading

This list serves as a reference for those looking to learn more about early modern English cookery, and includes many of the sources I have used in researching this project. I have chosen sources that are accessible to those without a large university library: some of the original cookbooks I have looked at are not available in reprints (or at least not that I am aware of). I would welcome any recommendations for additional sources that I may have overlooked: just post them in the comments!

  • Markham, Gervase. The English Housewife. Edited by Michael Best. (1986). Canada: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

This version is the most accessible for the modern reader, with paperback copies costing around $20. The introduction by Best provides a wonderful background in the subject before presenting the reader with the entirety of Markham’s text. For simplicity’s sake, and because I can’t take the original home with me to prop up in the kitchen (!), Best’s book is the source from which I will be drawing the text of Markham’s original recipes.

  • Schoonover, David E., ed. 1998. Ladie Borlase’s Receiptes Booke. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

Schoonover’s book is similar in layout to Best’s work. It begins with a well-written introduction providing background information, followed by the original text. Ladie Borlase’s original book is held at the University of Iowa’s Special Collections (in the Szathmary Culinary Collection, to be precise), and is a manuscript recipe book created by members of one household (rather than a text that was printed and distributed, like Markham’s).

  • Books: Albala, Ken. Eating Right in the Renaissance, University of California Press, 2002.; Albala, Ken. Food in Early Modern Europe, Greenwood Press, 2003; Albala, Ken, Cooking in Europe: 1250-1650, Greenwood Press, 2006; Albala, Ken, The Banquet: Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance Europe, U. of Illinois Press, 2007.
  • “Cooking as Research Methodology: Experiments in Renaissance Cuisine” in Renaissance Food from Rabelais to Shakespeare:Culinary Readings and Culinary Histories, Joan Fitzpatrick, ed. Ashgate Press,

Ken Albala has devoted much of his life to the study and appreciation of food, and as such is a very knowledgeable and prolific writer on the subject. Several books (see first bulletpoint) are related to this particular study (although he has written many others!) and his chapter (second bulletpoint) is particularly relevant as it provides both a background in the subject and a very thorough discussion of the cookbook.

  • Thirsk, Joan. 2007. Food in Early Modern England: Phases, Fads, Fashions 1500-1760. London: Hambledon Continuum.

Thirsk provides a very thorough history of food during this time period, and does a wonderful job of tying food into its place within larger culture.

  • Cormack, Bradin and Carla Mazzio. 2005. Book Use, Book Theory: 1500-1700. Chicago: University of Chicago Library.

Cormack and Mazzio’s book is a wonderful introduction to book history, both for those who are new to the subject and for those hoping to learn more about certain areas of the field. It includes a section on self help books and instruction manuals (under which cookery manuals can be classed).

  • Spiller, Elizabeth. 2008. Seventeenth-century English recipe books: cooking, physic, chirurgery in the works of Elizabeth Talbot Grey and Aletheia Talbot Howard. Travitsky, Betty S. and Prescott, Anne Lake, ed. United Kingdom: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Spiller discusses the work of female cookery manual authors, and her findings are a useful point of comparison for papers such as mine.

  • Shammas, Carole. 1983. Food Expenditures and Economic Well-Being in Early Modern England. The Journal of Economic History, 43(1)89-100.

Shammas explores the interplay between food and economics and the role both played in determining one’s well-being and social status.

  • Mendelson, Sara and Crawford, Patricia. 1998. Women in Early Modern England: 1550-1720. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mendelson and Crawford discuss gender during this time period, which helps provide a context for cookery texts in domestic life.

  • Cressy, David. 1980. Literacy and the Social Order: Reading and Writing in Tudor and Stuart England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cressy’s writing allows readers to more fully understand who was literate in early modern England, and how patterns of literacy impacted social structure.

  • Touissant-Samat, Maguelonne. 1992. History of Food. Trans: Anthea Bell. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Touissant-Samat’s book gives a great overview of how different foods have evolved over time. Especially useful are in-depth looks at specific ingredients (see my first post for some information on strawberries), in which the author discusses how these ingredients, and our use of them, has changed. It also includes very specific references to different practices of cultivation and methods of cooking.


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