Lot 89
1888 Economical French Cookery in orig. wrappers

Estimate: $300 - $500

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About this Lot

[CULINARY work]. -  [Emilie LEBOUR-FAWSETT (c.1823 – 1892)] “Cordon-Bleu”. Economical French Cookery for Ladies. Adapted to English Households. By A "Cordon-bleu". London: J.S. Virtue & Co.. Ltd., 1888. Octavo. Pp. vi, 103, [1] blank, [2] advertisements. Original tinted printed publisher's paper wrappers, the upper cover with an overall ‘japonias’ design in black incorporating the title, the lower cover with adverts, back strip present (some small splits and toning).

An excellent copy of the scarce reissue of the first edition (published in 1887 the previous year) of this work on ‘Economical French Cookery for Ladies’, in which the author tries to make some of the classic French dishes more accessible to English cooks, recognizing that there was a language barrier making it difficult for them to use the cook books written in French.

Curiously the main appeal of this work is not the recipes (although they are clearly delicious), but  the interesting more-general observations of the author. These are highlighted in the index at the end, with entries such as 'English Ladies afraid of their Servants, p. 36' and 'Experiments not to be tried in French Cookery, p. 29', as well as some useful pointers on the dangers of eating mushrooms. Also provided are several set menus, so English cooks might attempt a French-themed evening. Beyond what can gleaned from the preface in the present work we have not found much further information on the author. Her full name was Emilie Sophie Josephine Lebour and she was born in Le Havre in France about 1823, she was first married to the painter and lithographer Alexandre Xavier Lebour and lived in London from about 1850, possibly as a result of the 1848 revolutions. In London she became a teacher of languages but was widowed in 1867 and the following year married John Fawssett, a clerk at the Perry's Gazette who reported on bankruptcy proceedings, she continued to live London not far from Holland House in Kensington until her death in 1892, her son by her first marriage George Alexander Louis Lebour (1847-1918) was a geologist.

This would seem to be her only published work, which she dedicates 'to the ladies of England, very many of whom I have known, and esteemed, and loved, during a sojourn in their country of thirty-six years. With them it rests whether this, my modest first attempt at authorship, shall fall flat from the press, or whether, on the other hand, their appreciation of my endeavours to interest and inform them shall justify the publication of a more complete work at some future date' (p. vi). Alas, we can find no evidence of any further works appearing from her pen. OCLC records two copies in the US, at Smith College and Cleveland Public library, and one in the UK, at Oxford; with five copies of the 1887 edition recorded (at the BL, NLS, and Cambridge in the UK, and Texas and Indiana in the US). 

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