Women in the household

Wendy Wall*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Opening a seventeenth-century manuscript recipe collection, I discover a book given to Anne Dewes by her mother Mary Granville upon the occasion of Anne's marriage to John Dewes. Scrawled in different hands are typically miscellaneous recipes: 'To make one sleep', 'For a sore breast', 'To boil a haunch of venison', 'To make Bread', 'To Make an Admirable good water against Melancholy', 'The Manner of distilling a water of honey', 'To preserve walnuts', 'To boile a capon larded with lemons', 'To make a syrip of Gillflowres', 'To cleane teeth well', 'To Make a cake Mrs Margaret Melbourns Way'. Nestled among these culinary, household and medical recipes (or 'receipts', as they were called) is one that surprises me: ' To Make Inke, Verie good'. As housewives preserved fruits, concocted curatives and created cakes, they apparently also made ink from rainwater, vinegar gum, copperas (the proto-sulphate of iron) and oakgalls (an excrescence produced by insects on trees, used as a dye). Granville's text includes, in fact, three different ink recipes. Lest we think her tastes idiosyncratic, we might consider that published recipe books also included different ways of making ink, including invisible ink. The materials of writing could be, it seems, conceptualized as part of early modern household production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Early Modern Women's Writing
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781139002691
ISBN (Print)9780521885270
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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