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Cookery Collection

Cookery Collection guide

The Cookery Collection contains printed and archival material relating to food and cooking that dates from the late 15th century until the present day. It is one of our Designated collections.

The collection includes material related to:

  • recipes
  • gastronomy
  • food production
  • home economics
  • medicinal uses of food
  • confectionery
  • menus
  • vegetarianism

The collection also contains long sequences of editions of popular works, through which it is possible to trace the evolution of the texts over time. You can observe innovation and changes in taste and fashion, as well as developments in the book trade.

Development of the Cookery Collection

The Cookery Collection has grown over the years.

Blanche Legat Leigh presented her collection of 1,500 printed volumes and a number of manuscripts to the Library in 1939. It mainly comprised works in English, French and Italian.

The collection was then strengthened in 1962 by John F. Preston, who gifted 600 printed volumes of British works from before 1861.

Since then the collection has continued to grow, with the acquisition of the Camden Library cookery collection (covering the later 20th century) in the 1980s, and the arrival of the Michael Bateman print and archive collection in 2011.

How the collection is arranged

Although the different origins of these collections are recorded and indicated in the material, they are now regarded and administered as a single collection to aid discovery.