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Dinner with Mr. Darcy: Recipes Inspired by the Novels and Letters of Jane Austen, by Pen Vogler – A Review

dinner with mr darcy

dinner-with-mr-darcy-by-pen-vogler-2013-x-200Dinner with Mr. Darcy: A review by Laurel Ann Nattress

Imagine eating white soup with Mr. Darcy, roast pork with Miss Bates, or scones with Mr. Collins! Just thinking of those dishes transports me back into the scenes in Jane Austen’s novels and makes me smile. In Dinner with Mr. Darcy, food historian Pen Vogler examines Austen’s use of food in her writing, researches ancient Georgian recipes, converting them for the modern cook.

Even though Austen is not known for her descriptive writing, food is an important theme in her stories, speaking for her if you know how to listen. Every time we dine with characters, or food is mentioned, it relays an important fact that Austen wants us to note: wealth and station, poverty and charity, and of course comedy. While poor Mr. Woodhouse frets over wedding cake in Emma, Mr. Bingley offers white soup to his guests at Netherfield Park in Pride and Prejudice, and Aunt Norris lifts the supernumerary jellies after the ball in Mansfield Park, we are offered insights into their characters and their social station.

In Austen’s letter she writes to her sister Cassandra about many domestic matters: clothes, social gatherings and food. When she mentions orange wine, apple pie and sponge cake we know it is of importance to her.

“I hope you had not a disagreeable evening with Miss Austen and her niece. You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me.” – Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, 15 June 1808


White soup
White soup

Vogler has combed Austen’s novels, letters and juvenilia pulling out dishes and researching them in contemporary cookbooks from the Georgian era. The sections are cleverly arranged: Breakfast with General Tilney; Mrs. Bennet’s Dinner to Impress; Pork and Apples: An Autumn Dinner with the Bateses; Jane’s Family Favorites; The Picnic Parade; Tea and Cake; The Ball at Netherfield; An Old-fashioned Supper for Mr. Woodhouse; Christmas with the Musgroves and Other Celebrations; Gifts, Drinks, and Preserves for Friends and the Sick at Heart. The recipes have been converted for the modern cook and look sumptuous from the numerous full-color pictures. I am dying to try Sally Lunn Cakes, a recipe from the famous bakery and tea shop in Bath, everlasting syllabub, ragout veal, Mrs. Austen’s pudding, rout cakes, white soup, flummery and many others. Several of the recipes have been adapted from Martha Lloyd’s household cookbook, Jane’s dear friend and confidante, who lived with the widowed Mrs. Austen and her daughters from 1807 until her marriage to Jane’s widowed elder brother Sir Francis Austen in 1823 at the age of 62! The bibliography in the back is also a great resource for those interested in Georgian cooking and its history.

Roast pork
Roast pork

While there are other scholarly books devoted to Georgian cooking focusing on Jane Austen such as The Jane Austen Cookbook, by Maggie Black and Deidre Le Faye (1995) and Jane Austen and Food, by Maggie Lane (1995), which we will be reviewing next month, Dinner with Mr. Darcy will appeal to the average cook who wants to experience what Austen and her characters ate and enjoyed, and discover why Austen’s choice of food and dining was so important to the plot development. The recipes are both simple and elaborate and the ingredients are available to most, even in the colonies! So if you are ready for your own picnic at Box Hill or supper at Pemberley, bon appetite!

Bath buns
Bath buns

Dinner with Mr. Darcy: Recipes Inspired by the Novels and Letters of Jane Austen, by Pen Vogler
Cico Books (2013)
Hardcover (160) pages
ISBN: 978-1782490562

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the editor of the short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, and, a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington where it rains a lot. Visit Laurel Ann at her blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

This review originally appeared on and is used here with permission.

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Apricot Marmalade and Apricot “Cakes”

apricot marmalade

Apricot Marmalade – A Regency Recipe

The following recipe is shared, courtesy of Pen Vogler, from her recent book, Dinner with Mr. Darcy, via our online gift shop. Check out this amazing cookbook (with it’s mouthwatering photographs!) for many more Regency era recipes.

Apricot "Cakes"
Apricot “Cakes” from Pen Vogler’s Dinner with Mr. Darcy




Dinner with Mr. Darcy, from which this recipe for apricot marmalade is taken, is available in our online gift shop

Dinner with Mr. Darcy: Recipes Inspired by the Novels and Letters of Jane Austen, by Pen Vogler
Cico Books (2013)
Hardcover (160) pages
ISBN: 978-1782490562

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Pike with Pudding in the Belly

In his diary (1752-1802) Parson Woodforde recounts, with a gastronome’s delight, the details of many a meal. These peeks into the past give a wonderful feeling of what life must have been like for the Austen family, social as well as historical contemporaries of the parson.

The following entry from June 4, 1777, describes one such meal:



In his diaries, Woodforde often mentions fishing and Pike were often caught. This large, carnivorous fish is considered particularly good sport among anglers and is still sought after, today. Elizabeth Moxon’s 1764 cookbook, English Housewifry: Exemplified in Above Four Hundred and Fifty Receipts Giving Directions in Most Parts of Cookery … with an Appendix Containing Upwards of Sixty Receipts, offers the following recipe for this dish:

How to roast a Pike with a Pudding in the Belly
Take a large pike, scale and clean it, draw it at the gills. To make a pudding for the Pike, take a large handful of breadcrumbs, as much beef -suet shred fine, two eggs, a little pepper and salt, a little grated nutmeg, a little parsley, sweet marjoram and lemon peel shred fine; so mix it altogether, put it into the belly of your pike, skewer it all around, place it in an earthen dish with a lump of butter over it, a little salt and flour, so set it in the oven. An hour will roast it.

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Hannah Glasse

A Housekeeper receives her mistress's instructions for dinner in this period plate.

Hannah Glasse (March 1708 – 1 September 1770) was an English cookery writer of the 18th century. She is best known for her cookbook, humbly entitled, “The art of cookery, made plain and easy: which far exceeds any thing of the kind yet published…”, first published in 1747. The book was reprinted within its first year of publication, appeared in 20 editions in the 18th century, and continued to be published until 1843. Although Hannah’s life never over lapped that of Jane Austen, her book influenced countless Regency households, no doubt including the Austen’s own, and may be regarded as the Mother of modern cookbooks.

Hannah Glasse was christened on 28 March 1708 at St Andrews, Holborn, London. Her mother is said to have been Hannah Reynolds, a widow. Her father,Isaac Allgood, a landowner of Brandon and Simonburn, both in Northumberland had recently married Hannah Clark, the daughter of a London vintner. Hannah Glasse was brought up in Allgood’s home at Simonburn near Hexham, together with his legitimate children, Lancelot and Isaac. She once described her mother in a letter as being a “wicked wretch!

During her childhood, Glasse formed a relationship with her father’s youngest sister, Margaret Widdrington, with whom she corresponded through most of her adult life. The surviving letters are the major source of information about Glasse’s personal life. Isaac Allgood and his wife Hannah Clark had both died of illness by 1725, when Glasse was 16 years old. On August 5, 1724, Hannah Glasse married an Irish soldier, John Glasse, at Leyton. Glasse’s letters reveal that from 1728–1732 the couple held positions in the household of the 4th Earl of Donegall at Broomfield, Essex. Thereafter they seemed to have lived in London.

Hannah Glasse’s identity as the author of one of the most popular of 18th-century cookery books was not finally confirmed until 1938, when the historian Madeline Hope Dodds of Gateshead settled the matter. The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy was published by subscription in 1747, and also sold at ‘Mrs. Ashburn’s China Shop’ according to the title page. A second edition appeared before the year was out. The book did not reveal its authorship, except generally with the signature ‘By a Lady’. This permitted the erroneous claim it was written by John Hill. In Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, a dinner party is recounted in which the publisher Dilly suggests Hill was the true author. Johnson was not convinced, saying “women can spin very well, but they cannot make a good book of cookery.” He continued that he, himself could write a very good cookbook, because he would write it upon “philosophical principles”.

Frontspiece to a 1747 edition of Hannah Glasse's book

In 1747, the same year in which the book appeared, John Glasse died. Also in that year, Glasse set herself up as a ‘habitmaker’ or dressmaker in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, in partnership with her eldest daughter Margaret.

The direction “First catch your hare” is sometimes misattributed to Glasse. The closest to it in her Art of Cookery is the recipe for roast hare (page 6) which begins “Take your hare when it be cas’d”, meaning simply to take a skinned hare.

In 1754 Glasse became bankrupt. Her stock was not auctioned after the bankruptcy, as it was all held in Margaret’s name. However, on 29 October 1754, Glasse was forced to auction her most prized asset, the copyright for The Art of Cookery. On 17 December 1754, the London Gazette stated that Glasse would be discharged from bankruptcy (issued with a certificate of conformity) on 11 January 1755. In the same year, she and her brother Lancelot repaid the sum of £500 they had jointly borrowed of Sir Henry Bedingfeld two years before.

The Marshalsea Prison

Glasse once again fell into dire financial difficulties and was consigned on June 22, 1757 to the Marshalsea debtor’s prison. In July 1757, she was transferred to Fleet Prison. No record has been found of her release date, but she was a free woman by December 2, 1757, as on this day she registered three shares in The Servants Directory, a new book she had written on the managing of a household. It was not a commercially successful venture, although its plagiarized editions were popular in North America. Her daughter continued to pay the rates on the Tavistock Street premises until 1758, when it was listed as empty.

Food prepared from Ms. Glasse's book

In 1760 Ann Cook published Professed Cookery which contained a 68-page attack on Hannah Glasse and her work. Ann Cook lived in Hexham, and was reacting to an alleged campaign of intimidation and persecution by Lancelot Allgood. In the same year, Hannah published her third and last work, The Compleat Confectioner. It was reprinted several times, but did not match the success that Hannah had enjoyed with The Art of Cookery.

The London Gazette announced that “Mrs. Hannah Glasse, (half-)sister to Lancelot Allgood, died on 1 September 1770, aged 62”. In 2006, Glasse was the subject of a BBC documentary that called her the “mother of the modern dinner party”.

Glasse and her husband had eight children:

  • Margaret, the eldest
  • Lancelot was christened 1 July 1736 at the parish church of St Andrews in Holborn, London.
  • Isaac Allgood was christened 19 September 1738 at the same church. He was a junior official or ‘writer’ with the East India Company by 1754, and witnessed a document in 1756 on the ship Edgecot
  • George Buck was christened 2 January 1740 at the same church. He was of the crew of HMS Sunderland, a Royal Naval ship, when it sank in a storm on 1 January 1761 near Pondicherry India
  • Catherine
  • Hannah
  • Eliza was christened 27 July 1741 at the parish church of St Andrews.
  • Elizabeth Mary was christened 7 December 1743 in the same church


In 1995, Prospect Books Ltd published a facsimile edition of the 1747 edition of the book, with introductory essays by Jennifer Stead and Priscilla Bain, and a glossary by Alan Davidson. In 1998, Applewood Books published a facsimile edition of the 1805 edition of the book, annotated by culinary historian Karen Hess. Much of this information is taken from these two books.

Modern adaptations of many of Hannah Glasse’s recipes may be found in Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, by Laura Boyle.