Described as the “queen of the dinner party,” and hailed as the author of The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse would have been 310 on March 28.
In her honour, Google is changing its logo in more than 16 countries to a doodle of her work.
But, Glasse was not recognised for her achievements during her lifetime. Her identity as the author of one of the most popular cookery books was challenged until 1938.
This is her story:
Hannah Glasse was born on March 28, 1708, in St Andrews, Holborn, London. Her mother is said to have been Hannah Reynolds, a widow, and her father, Isaac Allgood, was a landowner who was married to another woman, Hannah Clark.
Glasse was brought up in Allgood’s home at Simonburn near Hexham. During her education, in spite of being an unwelcome presence in her father’s home, she witnessed good living and tasted the foods of the upper class.
- Allgood and his wife died of illness by 1725, when Glasse was 16 years old. She later married a soldier of fortune, John Glasse.
Together they had 10 children, of whom only five survived. Needing to raise money to feed her family, Hannah set to writing The Art of Cookery.
Art of Cookery
- She began work on The Art of Cookery in 1746, and her ambition was to teach simple, straightforward recipes with the very minimum of expenditure and technical complication.
“I believe I have attempted a Branch of Cookery which nobody has yet thought worth their while to write upon …” she wrote as her introductory line. The book was first published in 1747.
Her cookbook was a bestseller with the British public due to its conversational style. Preceding cookbooks were written for the chefs of royal and aristocratic households.
The book did not reveal its authorship, except with the signature ‘By a Lady’. It included 972 recipes, covering everything from puddings and soups, to what to serve at Lent, to preparing food for the sick.
In her own words, she aimed to accomplish a work “which far exceeds anything of the kind ever yet published.”
Glasse, who had until this point struggled to make ends meet, became wealthy.
But her success was not to last. She was eventually declared bankrupt and was sent to debtors’ prison.
Before entering the prison, she sold the copyright of The Art of Cooking. After her release in 1757, Glasse published two more books: the Servants’ Directory and the Compleat Confectioner. Neither was as successful as The Art of Cookery.
- At the age of 62, in 1770, with only two children left alive, Hannah Glasse died.