Penn Library

HOUSEHOLD WORDS: Women Write from and for the Kitchen

Image from:
Modern Cookery for Private Families
by Eliza Acton
London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, 1871


Eliza Acton was first a poet and, then, lacking success in that genre, a cookbook writer. Unlike her poetry, her cookbooks made her one of the most popular authors of the period. Unmarried and perhaps having a child out of wedlock, Eliza Acton defied the conventions of her times. Although she concealed her connection with the press for awhile, she wrote for a newspaper and signed her name to her published poetry. She was a social reformer who, along with Charles Dickens, believed that bread should be baked at home. They associated processed foods, especially store-bought bread, with the social ills of Britain--child labor, urban blight, poverty, and malnutrition. Dicken's journal, Household Words, was devoted to the political and social issues of the day. Indeed, Dickens asked Acton for a contribution to the journal.

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