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Acton, Eliza (1799–1859), writer on cookery and poet, was born at Battle, Sussex, on 17 April 1799, the eldest of the five children of John Acton and his wife, Elizabeth, née Mercer. The Actons were a Suffolk family, and returned there soon after ...

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Astry [married name Orlebar], Diana (bap. 1671, d. 1716), diarist and compiler of recipe books, was baptized on 2 January 1671 at St Mary's, Henbury, Gloucestershire, the third daughter and fifth child of Sir Samuel Astry (1632–1704) of Henbury, Gloucestershire, a clerk of the ...

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Ayrton [née Walshe; other married name Balchin], Elisabeth Evelyn (1910–1991), novelist and writer on cookery, was born on 2 February 1910 at Littlefield Farm, Worplesdon, Surrey, the eldest child of Douglas Thomas George Walshe (1880–1952) and his first wife, Phyllis Sydney, née...

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Isabella Mary Beeton (1836–1865) by Maull & Polyblank, c. 1860–65 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Beeton [née Mayson], Isabella Mary (1836–1865), writer on household management and journalist, was born on 14 March 1836 at Milk Street, off Cheapside in the City of London, the eldest in the family of three daughters and a son of Benjamin Mayson (1801–1840)...

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Anne Blencowe, Lady Blencowe (1656–1718) circle of Michael Dahl, 1670s private collection

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Blencowe [née Wallis], Anne, Lady Blencowe (1656–1718), compiler of recipes, was born on 4 June 1656, the elder daughter and second of three surviving children of John Wallis (1616–1703), Savilian professor of geometry at the University of Oxford, and his wife, Susanna Glyde (1622–1687)...

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(Xavier) Marcel Boulestin (1878–1943) by Marcel Gromaire, 1925 © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2016

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Boulestin, (Xavier) Marcel (1878–1943), restaurateur and writer on cookery, was born at Poitiers, France, where his mother, the daughter of a former lycée teacher, shared the house of his widowed maternal grandmother. Boulestin grew up and attended school in Poitiers, developing strong interests in music and the theatre. He visited his father, who maintained a largely separate existence, only for a month each summer, at the property that he owned at ...

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Bradley, Martha (fl. 1740s–1755), writer on cookery, is known today only through her one monumental book, The British Housewife, which was published as a part-work from January to October 1756 and eventually came out in book form in 1758. The book is a complete manual for the housewife, the cook, the housekeeper, the gardener, and the farrier, with monthly sections of advice and recipes which cover every aspect of domestic management in the middle of the eighteenth century. The author herself was a professional cook who worked in ...

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Briggs, Richard (fl. 1788), writer on cookery, was for many years at the Globe tavern, Fleet Street; the White Hart, Holborn; and the Temple Coffee House, Fleet Street, London. His book, The English Art of Cookery, was first published in 1788 and by 1798 it had gone into several editions in ...

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Bukht, (Mirza) Michael John [pseud. Michael Barry] (1941–2011), broadcasting executive, television presenter, and cookery writer, was born on 10 September 1941 at Ynysarwed Farm, Resolven, Glamorgan, the elder son of Mirza Jawan Bukht (1908–1973), an Indian (later a Pakistani) diplomat, and his wife, ...

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Robert Carrier (1923–2006) by Barry Marsden, 1998 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Carrier, Robert (1923–2006), writer on cookery and restaurateur, was born Robert Carrier McMahon on 10 November 1923, at Tarrytown, New York state, USA, the third son of a wealthy property lawyer of Irish descent. His mother was of German descent, and also from a wealthy background. (His middle name, later his assumed surname, was that of one of his grandmothers, chosen because it looked good in print and was easy to pronounce in French.) When his parents lost their money following the ...

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Cook, Ann (fl. c. 1725–c. 1760), writer on cookery, was born probably in the late 1690s, perhaps in co. Durham. Little is known of her except what appears in the autobiographical 'Plan of house-keeping' included in the second and third editions of her cookery book; her narrative is an account of her feud with ...

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Costa [née Murphy], Margaret Mary (1917–1999), restaurateur and writer on cookery, was born on 30 August 1917 in Umtali, Southern Rhodesia, where her father, Michael John Murphy, was a senior official in the customs and excise department of the Southern Rhodesian government. His job entailed frequent moves while she was growing up, including a time in ...

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Crewe [formerly Dodds], Quentin Hugh (1926–1998), writer on food and travel, was born at 27 Welbeck Street, London, on 14 November 1926, the second son of Major (James) Hugh Hamilton Dodds, British consul in Tripoli, and his wife, formerly Lady Annabel Hungerford O'Neill (...

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David [née Gwynne], Elizabeth (1913–1992), writer on cookery, was born on 26 December 1913 at Wootton Manor, near Polegate, Sussex, the second of four daughters of Rupert Sackville Gwynne (1873–1924), politician, and his wife, the Hon. Stella, née Ridley (d. 1973)...

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Elizabeth David (1913–1992) by unknown photographer, c. 1960 © reserved; estate of Elizabeth David

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Davidson, Alan Eaton (1924–2003), diplomatist and food historian, was born on 30 March 1924 at Garden City, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the only son and elder child of William John Davidson (1899–1959), inspector of taxes, and his wife, Constance, née Eaton (1889–1974). His father was Scottish, which ...