Pennell.   Elizabeth Robins     - A limited edition of 500 & a signed letter.
My Cookery Books
by Elizabeth Robins Pennell. The verso states 'This 1983 edition limited to 500 copies. this is number 54.'
174 x 248mm. Front and back paste-downs and endpapers, in bottle green paper. 1fep with a tipped in note hand-written by Pennell on the verso. Title page. 2p Forward by Mike McKirdy of ‘CooksBooks’. [1] 15p Index of Authors and Titles. [1] Facsimile of original Title page. [1] (1)vi-x Introduction. (1)xii Illustrations. Half Title. [1] My Cookery Books 2-171. [1]. Original quarter bound green cloth with marbled boards. Paper printed label on spine. The tipped in hand-written postcard by Pennell with her messy writing style reads – “I must send at least a good to say “Thank You” for I think it so good of you to remember the Oatcake sounds very good, but I am not sure if the ----- ------ will ---- to it. However, we shall see! E R Pennell 25.2.17. A scarce item in excellent condition.
- Elizabeth Robins Pennell, born February 21, 1855 was an American author. She was the wife of American artist, illustrator and fellow author, Joseph Pennell, whom she married in June 1884. He provided the illustrations for many of her books. They rebuked the staid Victorian sensibilities of their times. After an eyebrow-raising marriage in 1884, offending both his Quaker family and her Catholic family, they raised more eyebrows by tri-cycling through France, the Alps, and Italy. Elizabeth sat in the sidecar-like seat, Joseph perched on the high seat. Pennell would go on to author over twenty-five books, some of which are now in print again. She also wrote articles for The Atlantic Monthly and newspapers, including a food column—“The Wares of Autolycus”—for London’s The Pall Mall Gazette. Nothing in her background suggested that Elizabeth Pennell would become one of the world’s best-known cookbook collectors. She collected rare cookbooks for more than 27 years and wrote this intriguing bibliographical essay about them, which was first published in 1903. Her other famous Culinary work is the ‘The Feasts of Autolycus: the Diary of a Greedy Woman’ - first edition 1898. The Pennells frequented cafés in France and Italy, with their many artist friends. The European café culture, contributed enormously to her culinary education, preparing her for writing her food columns. Because she couldn’t wield a saucepan with ease when she started writing her food column, one of the Pennells’ friends, publisher William E. Henley, saved her by giving her a copy of Alexander Dumas’s Dictionnaire de la Cuisine. With the acquisition of Dumas’s book, Pennell marveled, “It was with something of a shock that I woke one morning and found myself a collector of cookery books.” And when she passed up a new dress for a rare first edition of “good old Hannah Glasse,” she knew she was a serious collector At one point, Pennell owned over 1,000 rare cookbooks. Her glee over the range of her collection comes out in this book where she writes – ‘If it be a mistake to collect, at least I have collected so well that I have yet to find the collection of cookery books that can equal mine. It may be put to shame when I consult M. Georges Vicaire’s Bibliographie Gastronomique (1890), with its twenty-five hundred entries, especially as M. Vicaire’s knowledge of the English books on the subjects is incomplete, and his ignorance of the American exhaustive, - and he has never heard of Miss Leslie, poor man’. Pennell also owned a copy, published in 1498, of De Re Culinaria, by the third century Roman gastronome who called himself Apicius. It is thought to have been the first cookbook in the Western world. The great collector is being re-found and appreciated due to the re-publishing of some of her work. She died in New York City in February of 1936. Below is a photograph portrait from the Victoria & Albert Museum of Elizabeth Robins Pennell, taken crica 1890, by Frederick Hollyer (1837-1933)

click on image to enlarge

Modern category
ref number: 11094