Monday, 30 September 2013

Ravilious: Wood Engravings - Excerpt

Country Life Cookery Book by Ambrose Heath 
Country Life, 1937 

Well-known 1930s food writer Ambrose Heath wrote this guide for Country Life, combining seasonal recipes with tips for the country gardener; the illustrations correspond to particular months. In his introduction Heath laments the decline of the smaller country house, noting that 'The domestic problem is, of course, far more serious than it is in the towns.... Where forty years ago a servant would have gladly walked five miles into a village to meet a friend, she will not now cycle even two miles to see the pictures.' Staff shortages and the straitened economic climate have evidently forced housewives to cut back, and Heath offers recipes which are simple and inexpensive compared to the 'Mrs Beeton school of cooking’ - although Potted Pigeons, Gibelotte of Rabbit, Brain Fritters, Eggs in Jelly and Herring's Roe Fingers may sound exotic today. Ravilious was an expert fryer of bacon but sought assistance as he researched the engravings. 'Mrs Beeton has been a help,' he wrote.

This is an excerpt from Ravilious: Wood Engravings, which will be published this autumn by The Mainstone Press.


  1. I love this Ambrose Heath cookery book and recently tracked down a lovely first edition. The cover was very old and tatty but I rebound it with red bookcloth and some original Bawden paper.
    I shall look out for this new book on wood engravings, perfect Christmas present material!

  2. Thanks Acornmoon - how lovely that you gave new life to an old book! I hope you enjoy 'Ravilious: Wood Engravings' - should be out beginning of Nov...