This article examines the history and movements of one collection of recipes in three “acts” or iterations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell's A New System of Domestic Cookery is published in London in 1806, and almost immediately, the book is pirated and printed in the United States. More than 100 years later, the same collection of recipes is reprinted by S. Thomas Bivins under the title The Southern Cookbook. The authors discuss the implications of the text's movements through the lens of book history and copyright law. Rundell sues her publisher, John Murray, for the right to control the publication of her recipes. Meanwhile, in the U.S., her book is continuously in print for decades, but Rundell receives no remuneration for it. Bivins, an African American merchant and principal of a training institute for black domestic workers, takes the recipes attributed to Rundell from the public domain for The Southern Cookbook. The authors conclude that this cookbook in three acts demonstrates how a history of the cookbook in general can challenge received understandings of authorship and textual ownership.
Cookery and Copyright: A History of One Cookbook in Three Acts
Carrie Helms Tippen is Assistant Professor of English and Writing Program Coordinator at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her book, Inventing Authenticity: How Cookbook Writers Redefine Southern Identity (University of Arkansas Press, 2018), examines the rhetorical strategies that writers use to prove the authenticity of their recipes in the narrative headnotes of contemporary cookbooks. Her academic work has been published in Food and Foodways, Southern Quarterly, and Food, Culture, and Society. Carrie is a host of the podcast New Books in Food from the New Books Network.
Heidi S. Hakimi-Hood holds a PhD in English from Texas Christian University. Her dissertation, “Locating Rural Cosmopolitanism in Long Nineteenth-Century British Writings,” illuminates culinary texts, rural populations, and women writers. She is an associate co-editor for An Anthology of Anglophone Transatlantic Literature, 1776–1920, scheduled for publication in 2020 by Edinburgh University Press.
Amanda Milian is a PhD candidate in History at Texas Christian University. Her dissertation in progress, “Dining in the President's Mansion: Material Worlds of the Early Republic, 1800–1824,” focuses on material culture, foodways, and entertaining during the presidencies of Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe.
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Carrie Helms Tippen, Heidi S. Hakimi-Hood, Amanda Milian; Cookery and Copyright: A History of One Cookbook in Three Acts. Gastronomica 1 November 2019; 19 (4): 1–9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2019.19.4.1
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