Acton, Eliza

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Acton, Eliza (1799–1859) regarded by some as the most accomplished cookery writer in the English language, spent her early life in Suffolk, the county where her father’s family belonged, and also spent some time in France. As an adult she lived in Tonbridge (in Kent) and Hampstead (in London). She never married and for much of her life her household consisted of her mother and herself.

Her book Modern Cookery for Private Families was published in 1845, revised by her in 1855, and stayed in print until almost the end of the century. It then had to wait almost 100 years before being reprinted in full (1994), although a generous selection of her recipes had been republished in 1986, accompanied by admirable essays from Elizabeth Ray and Elizabeth David. A separate book, The English Bread Book, appeared in 1857.