Dublin: Printed by James Hoey, jun. at the Mercury, in Parliament-street, [circa 1765-8].
Duodecimo, (16.5 x 10 cm.), , 168 pages. [A-H12]; not all leaves signed. Index and bills of fare at front. Publication date from external sources. Evident FIRST EDITION, the functionally simultaneous Dublin imprint (see Maclean, pages 23-24). The only known work by Susannah Carter of Clerkenwell (London), but an extremely popular and influential in England and Ireland. Perhaps its greatest impact was felt across the Atlantic, where in 1772 it became just the second cookbook published in America (Lowenstein 4), following Eliza Smith’s Compleat Housewife (Williamsburg, 1742). The Frugal House Wife issued by Boston’s Edes & Gill in 1772 was additionally notable for its two plates of carving instructions engraved by soon-to-be revolutionary hero Paul Revere. Successive American editions were issued by New York’s Berry & Rogers in 1792 and 1795 (Lowenstein 7 and 8b), and by Philadelphia’s James Carey in 1796 (Lowenstein 15). So popular was The Frugal Housewife in the New World that its recipes were to form a large section of the first cookbook compiled by an American, Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery (Hartford, 1796). Stavely and Fitzgerald survey the borrowing in their recent and masterful United Tastes: The making of the first American cookbook (Amherst, 2017). “Mary Tolford Wilson acknowledged that many of the recipes in American Cookery ‘were outright borrowings from British cookery books of the period, particularly Susannah Carter’s.’ But neither Wilson nor Karen Hess forty years later described the extent of this borrowing” (page 21). They go on to enumerate twenty-nine recipes in American Cookery for which The Frugal House Wife was the sole source, and another eleven recipes for which it was one of just two or three possible sources. Carter’s recipes were employed by Simmons more than any other, and thus the influence of The Frugal House Wife on America’s cookery incunabula was significant. The circumstances of this Irish issue remain somewhat murky. The Dublin printer James Hoey, Junior was active “at the Mercury in Parliament-street” address from 1765 to 1781. Unlicensed use of the text by Hoey was a possibility. Writing about James Hoey Senior, Richard Robert Madden says, ”The Dublin printers of the eighteenth century had no esprit de corps; they pirated one another’s newspaper titles without shame or scruple, as they spoiled the Egyptians of their craft on the other side of the Channel; but in later plunderings they appropriated, not only newspapers and magazines, but books of great value and many volumes” (Madden. History of Irish Periodical Literature, Volume 1. London: 1867, page 266.). Arguing against piracy is the fact that both James Hoey Senior and James Hoey Junior had some history of cooperation with the publisher of the first London edition, John Newbery. Hoey Senior shared an imprint on The World Displayed; a curious collection of voyages and travels (1757-67), (the second volume only is shared with “J. Hoey, jun. [junior], in Skinner Row, Dublin”). Further, Hoey Junior cooperated on publication of the juvenile Robin Goodfellow, “Printed for Newberry [sic]; Dublin: Re-printed by James Hoey, at the Mercury in Parliament-street, 1781.” [cf. Charles Welsh. A Bookseller of the Last Century, Being Some Account of the Life of John Newbery, and of the Books He Published, with a Notice of the Later Newberys. (London: Griffith et al, 1885), page 333]. Whatever the relationship of the two printers in the late 1860s, Hoey saw fit to reissue the book in 1770 with a new title, The Universal Housewife… on a new title page tipped-in to replace the original. Susannah Carter remained listed as the author, but the shift of titles raises interesting issues. Small wormholes at the bottom of the first twenty-five leaves, not affecting text; lacking rear endpaper. Otherwise internally remarkably clean and sound. Contemporary full speckled calf; spine with five raised bands, and later gilt-titled red morocco spine label. Some early professional repair to edges; spine replaced with original laid-down. In custom slipcase with chemise; half tan morocco, with raised bands and gilt-titled spine label. [OCLC records two copies and ESTC three, but inquiries with the institutions reveal that only the National Library of Ireland holds a copy; auctions record one sale of the London first edition, in the Scruggs/Cook sale of 1977; there are no auction records for any printing by Hoey (under either title), and just three records for various later Newbery editions; Bitting, page 78 (later editions); Cagle 594 (citing the E. Newbery 1795 printing); Maclean, page 23; Oxford, page 122 (citing the 1795 E. Newbery printing, but mentioning an undated first consisting of 168 pages); Ahearn, Collected Books (an unusual cookbook appearance in the guide].