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Agnes Marshall: From Scullery Maid to Victorian Celebrity Cook

ByDavid Smith

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Trailblazer, innovator, entrepreneur. Agnes Marshall was as famous in her day as Mrs Beeton, but she has largely been forgotten, aside from a few passing references to her role in improving ice cream-making. But Agnes’s story and her significant achievements in the world of cookery deserve far greater recognition. Now David Smith has re-examined her contribution to food history, busting some myths about her origins along the way. Starting out as a lowly scullery maid, Agnes worked her way up to be a cook in gentlemen’s service. Then, with true entrepreneurial spirit, she and her husband, Alfred, opened a cookery school that became renowned across Britain and beyond. Spotting further business opportunities, Agnes was endorsed by royalty; became the author of four best-selling cookery books; invented numerous improvements to ice cream-making machinery; established and contributed to a weekly newspaper, The Table; and undertook lecture tours in the UK and overseas. According to Oscar Wilde, “Mrs. Marshall’s brilliant lectures are, of course, well known.” All this Agnes did with grit, determination and extraordinary stamina, while also fulfilling her traditional role as a wife and mother. She is a fascinating example of Victorian social mobility: how hard work, business acumen and a bit of good luck could lead to a successful career and helped her and Alfred to climb the social ladder. David Smith is a food writer, and the author of The Cooking Colonel of Madras and The Sublime Art of Curry Making. He founded The Curry House website in 1996.


Publication Date
Aug 6, 2023
Biographies & Memoirs
All Rights Reserved - Standard Copyright License
By (author): David Smith


Interior Color
Black & White
A5 (5.83 x 8.27 in / 148 x 210 mm)

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