Modernizing Markham book review

By Leroy Douresseaux
April 2, 2014 - 16:34

Modernizing Markham cover image

The guys at Candle Light Press publish comic books, graphic novels, art books, picture books, and books of miscellanea.  They also publish non-fiction and a recent example is Modernizing Markham: Bringing “The English House” to Today’s Readers by Julia Skinner.

Skinner, a doctoral student in Information Studies at Florida State University, received her Master’s in Library & Information Science and her Center for the Book certificate from the University of Iowa.  The biographical information on the book’s back cover states that Skinner creates visual art, cooks, and writes nonfiction in her spare time.  In fact, Modernizing Markham is about a cookbook.

Gervase Markham’s The English Housewife was, according to Skinner, the first important mass-market cookbook and housekeeping guide in the English language.  Skinner takes Markham’s work from its early printed origins into current new media.  She translates Markham’s recipes and ideas into a blog and back into a new book.

THE LOWDOWN:  I would not have heard of Julia Skinner’s Modernizing Markham: Bringing “The English House” to Today’s Readers if John Ira Thomas of Candle Light Press had not sent me a copy for review.  Obviously, this is not normal reading material for me, but I have always wondered about old recipes.

In this book, Skinner states that she wants to make 17th century recipes accessible to modern cooks and also place Gervase Markham in the context of both culinary history and book history.  So this book is also about books, printing, communication and modern technology, and also about calligraphy (go figure).

For me, it was back to the recipes.  I learned that ingredients change over the centuries, and that changes the preparation and cooking process.  In one case, Skinner needed a special tool, and, in another, she was unable to reproduce the recipe.  Apparently, being true to ye olde school cooking ain’t easy.  Yeah, I went there.

POSSIBLE AUDIENCE:  Comic book fans who are academics may want to give this paperback, Modernizing Markham: Bringing “The English House” to Today’s Readers, from a comic book publisher a try.  I think foodies will at least want to give this book a glance or more.

Purchasing information about Modernizing Markham is available at the following link:


Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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