Meet Cora Millet-Robinet, France's Mrs Beeton

Tom Jaine assesses the impact and legacy of France’s original domestic goddess

One of the blockbusters of late 19th-century France was a book of instruction for young women who were urged to abandon their ambitions of marrying a rich lawyer, industrialist, or man of letters and throw in their lots with a farmer, embracing the healthy, rewarding and beneficent life of the fields.

Whatever you think of that suggestion, its success depended on much learning and a great deal of explanation: hence the two fat volumes of Maison rustique des dames (The Ladies’ Country House) by Cora Millet-Robinet, first published in 1845, with its 21st – and last – edition appearing in about 1925.

Advice is offered for almost everything: childcare, education, reading matter, musical taste, entertaining, hiring and keeping staff, cookery, interior design, architecture, heating, lighting, laundry and cleaning – and that’s before the farmer’s new wife has stepped outside the house to learn all there is to know about the garden, the poultry-run or the farm. It is a wonderful guidebook for self-sufficient living. Along with all this good counsel, the author was an advocate of women’s proper status and self-reliance – a refreshing tendency in 1845.

Elizabeth David once remarked that ‘judging from ...

To read the remaining 85% of this article, you need to either

Subscribe now to The Connexion and benefit from access to our archived articles since 2006

1 Year (12 editions) (Our best value offer)

1 year of great reading in print and online

Subscription automatically renews so you don't miss an edition (but you can switch this off at any time!).

Freedom Subscription

Pay every three months. Our most flexible subscription

Subscription automatically renews so you don't miss an edition (but you can switch this off at any time!)

More articles from Profiles
More articles from Connexion France
Other articles that may interest you

Loading some business profiles...

Loading some classifieds...