The writer Fiona Ellis was commissioned to research the life of Hannah Glasse, including her cookery books and the Allgood letters housed at the Woodhorn Archives.  Foods and Feuds: Two Cooks of Hexham – front cover of The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy. © November Club

Hannah Glasse, née Allgood was born in 1708, the illegitimate daughter of a Hexham wine merchant. Her half-brother went on to be a prominent Northumberland MP but Hannah herself had a much more difficult life including early widowhood, self-publishing her books, time in a debtors’ prison and many children.  Few people have heard of Hannah Glasse, the 18th century author of the best-selling cookbook of all timeThe Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy, 1947, ran to 33 editions and was treasured across continents.  We wanted to celebrate this little-heard of author and her Hexham connections. The book was reprinted within its first year of publication, appeared in 20 editions in the 18th century, and continued to be published until 1846. 

Foods and Feuds: Two Cooks of Hexham – Hannah, Ann and Isabella. © Becky MadeleyFoods and Feuds: Two Cooks of Hexham – Hannah, Ann and Isabella. © Becky Madeley

Using a timeless approach we created a show that imagined a gathering of Glasse, Ann Cooke (her sworn enemy and rival) and Isabella Beeton, in a kitchen, to cook a meal whilst talking about their hopes and dreams from conflict to sisterhood.  We explored this little-remembered author and her Hexham connections Through the metaphor of food and cooking, the characters explored class differences and a woman’s place in the society of their time, their struggles and challenges as well as their personal rivalries and jealousies.  

Four performances took place in the café at Hexham’s Queen’s Hall and the cookery school at Blackfriars restaurant allowing us to experiment with delivering the shows in unexpected places.

That was a breath-taking piece - full of humour, love and loss with characters sensitively and cleverly portrayed. Loved the historical references, and using Beeton as the intermediary was truly inspired!   Audience member

Fab performances, and three totally different and rounded characters who drew in the audience within the first few minutes.  It was brilliant. Humour, sadness and a fascinating historical insight into the lives women who had much in common and much which divided them.  November Club is truly bringing them back to life.   Audience member

Credits:
Writer - Fiona Ellis
Director - Cinzia Hardy
Designer - Imogen Cloët

Food Historian Ivan Day acted as an advisor

Cast:
Hannah Glasse - Judi Earl 
Ann Cook - Jackie Phillips 
Isabella Beeton - Kathryn Beaumont 

Presented in association with Queen's Hall Arts, Hexham and Blackfriars Restaurant, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Supported by:
Arts Council England, Northumberland County Council, The Leche Trust and The Catherine Cookson Trust. 

Banner Image © Becky Madeley

    

Foods and Feuds - get the show on the road Help us get our brand new production Foods and Feuds: Two Cooks of Hexham on the road in 2020 Find out more

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