A Fire in the Kitchen. The Autobiography of a Cook.London: J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd, 1938 Stock Code: 113651
First edition, first impression, in a remarkable example of the scarce jacket. A Fire in the Kitchen is the autobiography of the founder of the English Folk Cookery Association. White (1863-1940) founded the Association in 1928 and in 1932 published Good Things in England, her manifesto for the merit of traditional English cooking.
Her work coincided with a wider folk movement, with song collectors such as Cecil Sharp, dance collectors such as Mary Neal, and fellow food writer Dorothy Hartley all contributing to a resurgent interest in the seemingly lost traditions of England. White's writing contains regional specialities as well as numerous traditional favourites, encompassing recipes from the England of Chaucer's time right up to the modern day. The association's Good Food Registers are a prime example of the networks of knowledge key to the movement and contained information passed on by contributors about towns, villages, hotels, restaurants, or even humble guest houses in which good English cooking or foodstuffs could be found.
Born in 1863, White's somewhat unhappy childhood, shopping "economically for food (since the family was by then poor), waiting on her uncongenial stepmother, and teaching the three small children of her father's third marriage" (ODNB), was relieved when she was sent to Fareham "to nurse her father's two elderly sisters, formerly proprietors of the Lion Hotel and Assembly Rooms. From them she learned that 'good epicurean country-house cookery which had been handed down the family from mother to daughter since the days of Queen Elizabeth'. Her return to Fareham towards the end of her life, when she opened a cookery school there, was directly inspired by her memories of learning traditional English cooking techniques, an accomplishment of which she never ceased to be proud". Only when in her sixties "living in frugal semi-retirement in a Chelsea basement room" supported by freelance journalism, did Florence formally begin to research her lifelong passion, good, traditional English food.
Octavo. Original green cloth, title gilt to the spine, top edge dark green. With dust jacket.
Portrait frontispiece from a photograph by Howard Coster.
Presentation inscription on front pastedown: "M. McNaulty March 1938 from Floss and Norah". Spine gently rolled, minor rubbing to board edges; a near-fine copy in the stunning jacket, spine and front panel lightly sunned, a few nicks and chips..
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