HERB - Markham's The English Housewife

Gaylin Walli g.walli at infoengine.com
Tue Dec 1 07:53:07 PST 1998

Here is the information on one of the books I've been refering to:

Markham, Gervase. _The English Housewife_. Ed. Michael R. Best.
Kingston, Canada: McGill-Queen's Univ. Press. 1986. ISBN: 0-7735-0582-2.

The remaining title page info of the book original copy reads:

"Contayning, the inward and outward vertues which ought to be in
a compleat woman, as, her skill in Physicke, Cookery, Banqueting-
stuff, Distillation, Perfumes, Wooll, Hemp, Flax, Dayries,
Brewing, Bakin, and all other things belonging to an Househould.
A Worke very profitable and necessarie, gathered for the henerall
good of this kingdome. Printed at London by John Beale, for Roger
Jackson, and are to bee sold at his shop neere the great Cunduit
in Fleet-streete. 1615."

According to Best, the first edition of "Housewife" was published
in 1615 as the second volume of a two volume set called "Countrey
Contentments." The companion book, for men, was called "The Husbandmans
Recreations." Best's edited version is based on the first edition,
with additional information noted from the 1623 and 1631 editions, both
of which Markham had a hand in editing, as well as ammendments from
the 1638 and 1658 editions which Markham did not apparently have a
hand in editing.

Throughout Best's edition, spelling has been normalized. A slight
disappointment to me, though I understand why he did it. Aside from
people like us (and even among people like us) who really likes to
read early English? Although the original pagination and line breaks
have not been preserved, paragraphs have been numbered for easy
reference and recipe additions or changes from edition to edition are
clearly marked either by brackets or footnotes.

Footnotes are copious and well placed, and the glossary alone is
worth photocopying for all your herbalist friends in the SCA (cooks
too). Conveniently, the glossary also includes numbered notes
referencing the terms back to the original text and footnotes where
further information can be gleaned. Not many editors take the time
to include a cross-referencing feature like this and I, for one,
appreciate it.

Finally, Best makes an effort in the bibliography to separate
works that we actually have a chance of getting through interlibrary
loan (or purchasing, in some cases) from those unattainable to anyone
not located near a major research library. The later of those are
works written before 1800.

Any more info people want or need? I'm going to try to type in
that "washing ball" recipe today on my lunch break.

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