Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Criag* (for Craig*)

Elizabeth Craig was a Scottish writer born on this day in 1883. She worked as a journalist (in fact, she was one of the founding members of PEN International in 1921), but when the film editor of the Daily Mail proclaimed that she was "the only woman in Fleet Street who could cook," Craig decided to train her focus on home economics. She published close to sixty books over the span of sixty years and was regarded as one of the top British writers of her day on the topic of "cookery." One of eight children, she learned how to cook when she was six years old and (shades of Marie Kondo) started collecting recipes at the tender age of twelve. She began writing cookbooks during the era of rationing and food scarcity, and went on to include a wider diversity of dishes as she traveled the world, and as home refrigeration and access to different kinds of ingredients became more common. With titles like The Stage Favourites' Cook Book (1923), Woman, Wine and a Saucepan (1936), Bubble and Squeak (1936), Cooking in War-Time (1940), Beer and Vittels (1955), Scandinavian Cooking (1958), Cottage Cheese and Yogurt (1960), Cook Continentale (1965), and The Business Woman's Cookbook (1970), to name just a few, her work covers a very wide range. Publications like the one pictured here are probably just as collectible nowadays for their iconic Depression-era design features as they for the actual recipes contained within. Elizabeth Craig lived to the impressive age of 97, clearly making her, in current Library of Congress parlance, one of the "Older people." Another bygone relic in this regard is the LC subject heading Cookery, which served us well for many years, but eventually got replaced with the distinctly less quaint-sounding Cooking. Cataloging was about the only place I ever really used or saw that word, and yet I now seem to rather miss it. It always reminded me a bit of crockery, summoning up impressions of simmering soups and stews. A fine thing to ponder on a cold day like today. So thanks for all the great cookery, Ms. Craig! This typo turns up 18 times in OhioLINK, and 291 times in WorldCat.

(Cover of "Cakes and Candies: How to Make Them" by Elizabeth Craig, 1934, from Wikipedia.)

Carol Reid

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