One would sight the marvelous Miss Isabella Beeton in frequent company of Martha Stewart or Julia Child, had the triumvirate been contemporaries. As a successful marketing expert, food connoisseur, and author, she was undoubtedly the entrepreneurial mastermind of her day, having created England’s cherished prize, “The Book of Household Management.”
I treaded the Derbyshire moors toward her childhood home, the Ascot grandstands. It was here where Isabella learned to simultaneously be a housewife and businesswoman; I presumed that the responsibility she must have endured raising twelve siblings must have had a significant toll on her future view of life.
As I closely squinted into the massive building at the foot of the grandstands, minimal light exposure revealed her weary eyes and stalwart countenance, signs of her unwavering dedication a male-dominated world of journalism. The room’s darkness concealed her neatly pressed hourglass petticoat, strategically covering a buttoned-up soul, one withheld by societal expectations and physical constraints.
I thanked her for propagating an unspoken truth, that the potential to create a positive impact on our familiar female comrades resided in ourselves.
We discussed the woman’s battle of conscience.
How does one find a compromise between household obligations and her inconspicuous professional desires?
How did Beeton herself prove her Victorian society wrong by becoming a self-satisfied woman pursuing her passion for professional writing?
I contemplated her reaction to both my and society's criticism and praise, with her unbeknownst to the welcoming reception she would receive today. She revealed that persistence allowed her to prove her gender-segregated surroundings wrong, that a woman can indeed be respected for pursuing her dreams and ultimately financially support herself for her publications.
Beeton captured the potential of youth, of an unexpected level of confidence unfairly terminated. She went above and beyond most women of her day, and even that may be an understatement. I asked her if she knew how widespread her inspiring influence has grown through the past one hundred fifty years, and how she would react to such positivity.
Though she wrote of culinary methods and fashion trends now departed from our current tastes palettes, I revealed to her my motives to preserve these traditions, as history embodies a culture within itself. Her no-nonsense persona parallels my own staunch determination to be of service to my society, to enter the professional workforce and become an influential being to those around me.