One well-known author serving the particular audience of the late 1800s and early 1900s was a respected educator and home economist from Syracuse, NY named Linda Hull Larned (1853–1939). She published eight books, including 100 Luncheon Dishes and 100 Picnic Suggestions but was particularly known for The Hostess of To-Day (1899), which we offer here. (In 1913 it was expanded and renamed The New Hostess of To-Day.)
The Hostess of To-Day is mainly a cookbook, containing an impressive 863 recipes. Larned approaches such subjects as table arrangement, protocol, and other details for formal and informal dinners and luncheons; breakfasts (including the wedding breakfast); and evening collations. This latter broad category includes coffee and cordials, as well as the “five o’clock function,” which might be anything from a cup of tea to a large reception. The recipes, along with the events, range from simple (baked trout, potato salad) to showier dishes (partridge filets in a truffled and spiced consomme, calf’s liver terrapin).
This is a quite delightful book to look at—amusingly illustrated with imaginative drawings, replete with smiling eggs and cakes, elves stirring their cookpots, and other whimsies. The artist, identified here as Mary Cowles Clarke—the spelling corrected in later editions to Clark—would go on to illustrate other books, including the first edition of L. Frank Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus in 1902.
Our copy, a 1904 printing, is in Very Good condition. The interior, largely clean, does bear the occasional stray pencil or pen marking. Light food stains can be found throughout but do not impinge on legibility. We have had the endpapers replaced to sturdy the binding. A previous owner applied a plastic laminate to the case. An attractive 100-plus-year-old book that we would call Very Good minus.