Book Review: The Epicure’s Almanack: Eating and Drinking in Regency London
Your dream, if you’re a book out of print, is that some
benevolent author discovers you and brings you back to life. Epicure’s
Almanack: Eating and Drinking in Regency London is just that book. And
Janet Ing Freeman is just that fairy god author. As an example of some of the
earliest guidebooks from its time, The Epicure’s Almanack (yelp
before it was yelp) was first published in 1815.
Ralph Rylance, the author of this guidebook, was working as
a freelance reader, translator, indexer and editor, when he was contacted by a
local publisher who had just produced a popular guidebook, The Picture
of London, which aimed at the curiosities in and near London. Rylance was
engaged to produce a companion piece to The Picturethat focused
solely on food, drink and lodging.
It took Rylance almost two years to finish the book and when
it finally came out, the publisher spent thirty guineas to advertise its
arrival. Despite the financial support, the book was deemed a failure when,
after almost two years, it had sold fewer than three hundred copies. The
remaining print run was pulped and Rylance went back to freelancing. Flash
forward almost two hundred years and you can now read an early example of
Read the rest of the review, originally published on the Inquisitive Eater.