The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook. Giving the duties of mistress and servants, the general management of the house, and practical recipes for cooking in all its braches… Third edition.

  • (Cookery) Steel, F.A. and G. Gardiner
  • Edinburgh & Bombay: Printed at the Edinburgh Press & Educational Society's Press 1893


SKU: 5732 Category: Tags: ,


8vo, pp. xvi, 414, [2, ads]. Original cream cloth boards backed in red cloth, front board blocked in red. Shaken and rubbed, cloth soiled, stitching strained at title-page, advert leaf reinforced with sellotape, index flytitle loose and a few other leaves loosening, fragments of removed label to pastedown. Ownership inscription of Helen Franklyn (1895) to flyleaf, bookseller’s stamp of A. J. Combridge & Co. Bombay to pastedown, several additional recipes in pencil to rear endpapers, one or two other pencil notes.


A scarce early edition of this popular guide to running a household in the British Raj, first published in 1888, reprinted with an index in 1889, and then revised and updated for this third edition, sometimes also appearing in Urdu translation. It reached a seventh edition by 1909 with further printings into the 1920s, and in 2010 OUP produced a facsimile of the second edition. The authors were Grace Gardiner and Flora Annie Steel, each the wife of a British civil servant, writing from their own experience. Relatively little is known of Gardiner but Flora Annie Steel (1847-1929), born in Forfar, was an indefatigable auto-didact, educationalist, and writer; she later turned her hand to fiction, earning the description 'the female Rudyard Kipling'.
Naturally seeing heavy use in environments unfriendly to books, no copies of the first edition of this manual are known to survive, and Library Hub locates copies of this third in Oxford Brookes and the Wellcome only. Though co-published in Edinburgh and presumably sold in both places, the Bombay bookseller's stamp in this copy suggests it was one of those that started life in India.

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