In 1615 the poet and writer Gervase Markham published an extraordinary handbook for housewives, containing advice on everything from planting herbs to brewing beer, feeding animals to distilling perfume, with recipes for a variety of dishes such as trifle, pancakes and salads (not to mention some amusingly tart words on how the ideal wife should behave). Aimed at middle-class women who share in household tasks with their servants in the kitchen, this companionable and opinionated book offers a richly enjoyable glimpse of the way we lived, worked and ate 400 years ago.
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Born in Nottingham in 1568, Gervase Markham was a prolific writer and poet. Like many other young men of his time, Markham took to a military career but after service in The Netherlands and Ireland, he turned to writing as a profession. In 1615, Markham published a handbook for housewives, which remains an important source of early 17th Century domestic life. It contains instructions for the 'complete woman' from preparing meals to brewing beer, to preventing plague and bad breath. Markham died in 1637 and is buried in St Giles's, Cripplegate, London.
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