Women's Suffrage Cookery Book

Aubrey Dowson

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DOWSON, Aubrey, compiler. The Women's Suffrage Cookery Book. London: Women's Printing Society, 1910. Quarto, half red cloth, pictorial cream paper boards.

First edition of this fundraising cookbook issued by the suffragists of Birmingham, England, in original pictorial boards.

"Compiled by Mrs Aubrey Dowson, a member of the Birmingham branch of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), The Women's Suffrage Cookery Book was published in 1912 to raise funds for the cause. The NUWSS was established in 1897 by Millicent Fawcett to exert pressure on the government through legal means. Consisting of 77 pages, the book contains recipes donated by suffragists from all across the country. With contributors as far afield as Southport and Penrith, the book is evidence of the campaign's national reach… Divided into 11 chapters such as "Dinner and Supper Dishes", "Salads and Sauces", "Still-Room" and "Vegetarian Cookery", the book includes recipes donated by some well-known campaigners. Mrs Helena Swanwick, one-time editor of Common Cause, the first independent newspaper for the NUWSS, suggests a recipe for Stuffed Fillet of Plaice, while Fawcett offered up Chestnuts as a Vegetable (cook in stock and serve with lemon zest)… That a cookery book was deemed a suitable vehicle for the feminist cause might seem strange; the kitchen has long been associated with women's oppression. For suffragists, however, a cookery book was a practical way to deploy their 'womanly' skills and knowledge. At the time, women did not have control over their own money, children, education or destiny. Arguing for a place in the public sphere was in itself radical. The suffragists were not looking to overturn women's relation to the home but to increase their agency within it" (Financial Times). "The cookbook, apparently marketed for both the middle-class british housewife and the militant suffragette, featured traditional English recipes… as well as simpler fare for dedicated, busy campaign workers… Given the suffragette's campaign to free women from the tyrannies of domestic routine, the cookbook's language of service and housewifery seems deliciously ironic. Yet the effort to market the women's suffrage movement was largely dependent on transforming ordinary household items… into advertisements for the cause… The competing claims of consumerism, political activism, and domestic responsibility were thus neatly resolved in the WSPU's [Women's Social and Political Union] clever and successful marketing strategies: the suffragette torn between the calls of domestic and political duty could serve a women's suffrage meal on her set of suffrage plates, which bore the slogan ' Votes for Women' and were handsomely decorated in the campaign's signature colors" (Heller & Moran, 87-88). Contemporary owner inscription. Manuscript sheets with contemporary recipes for chocolate caramels, cream toffee, orangeade, currant cheese cakes, Christmas cake, and ginger wine laid in.

Scattered soiling to interior, light wear and expert repairs to binding. An extremely good copy.

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