Philadelphia: Willis P. Hazard, 1853;. First edition. Some rubbing to corners. Contemporary ink signature to top margin of title-page. Foxing. A very good, tight copy. Publisher’s blindstamped dark brown cloth with gilt spine. Twelvemo. 310 pp. Item #17285
Eliza Leslie (1787 – 1858) was a prolific author of cookbooks, novels, etiquette books, short stories, children’s books, and articles for magazines and newspapers. Between 1836-1845, she edited an annual gift book, aptly titled The Gift: A Christmas and New Year’s Present; the contributors included Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Some of her cookbooks include Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats (1828), Miss Leslie’s Lady’s New Receipt-Book (1840), and Miss Leslie’s Directions for Cookery (1851).
“The Behaviour Book is more than just a look at mid-19th-century rules of etiquette. Leslie covers the wide range of daily life: four pages are devoted to selecting an umbrella (green silk ones weren’t colorfast); she includes instructions for making a good black ink; and bed-making gets half a page. It’s a chatty book, full of anecdotes (George Washington telling a tall tale to a credulous traveler) and one-paragraph essays on subjects like having a bedroom window open and how to refer to black servants. It’s also a wealth of anecdotal information about Leslie’s native Philadelphia, including a child’s rhyme listing its principal streets. The two chapters on how to treat writers and how to become a writer probably answered questions Leslie had heard over and over.” (“Voices from 19th-Century America” online archive, MerryCoz website.).