The rhetoric of cookbooks in eighteenth-century England

Christine Michele Norris, Purdue University


Eighteenth-century England produced a large number of influential cookbooks. Cookbook writers in this century, however, seem divided about what constitutes the appropriate scope and form of a well-written text. These divides over field standards for writing can generally be defined as a struggle between elite court cookbook writers and common country cookbook writers to determine the way the field should develop. This dissertation examines three issues facing eighteenth-century cookbook writers in shaping the conventions of their field: the role of the plain style in writing cookbooks and in creating recipes; the appropriate manner of citing previously published material and avoiding plagiarism, and the proper way to introduce innovative or novel recipes into a collection. The dissertation offers a comparative analysis of the writing styles of key eighteenth-century British cookbook writers, including Charles Carter, John Farley, Hannah Glasse, Elizabeth Raffald, and William Verrall. The study shows that rather than creating a coherent set of field standards for good writing, cookbook writing developed into high and low subfields, each with their own standards for good writing, documentation, and innovation.




Sullivan, Purdue University.

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