Department of History and Philosophy of Science

Food for thought: researching the history of nutrition

Emma Spary

Unlike most of other areas covered in this guide, food isn't solely, or perhaps even principally, a subject within the history of science. But this makes it, in many ways, an interesting area to explore if you want to consider the sciences as part of a broader cultural domain. Since everybody eats, scientific and medical accounts of food immediately raise the problem of the authority of scientifical and medical practitioners over everyday life, and how that varies at different times. The sources below have relevance for many different topics in the history of science and medicine, from the apothecary's boutique and the herbals of the fifteenth century to the rise of nutrition science and home economics in the twentieth, from the manuals of rural and domestic economy of the seventeenth century to the gastronomic canon of the nineteenth. They cover a delicious variety of areas in between – not to mention offering some tasty (and gruesome) comestibles along the way. Drinking is also included...

Bibliography of eating

  • C. Anne Wilson, Food and Drink in Britain from the Stone Age to Recent Times. London: Constable, 1973.
    General description.
  • Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat, A History of Food. Oxford: Blackwell Reference, 1992. [UL: 446.b.99.13]
  • Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Coneè Ornelas, eds, The Cambridge World History of Food. 2 vol. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
  • Virginia Maclean, A Short-Title Catalogue of Household and Cookery Books published in the English Tongue 1701-1800. London: Prospect Books, 1981.
  • Dena Attar, A Bibliography of Household Books Published in Britain 1800-1914. London: Prospect Books, 1987.
  • Katherine Golden Bitting, Gastronomic Bibliography. San Francisco: A. W. Bitting, 1939.
    References materials in various languages including English, French, Spanish, German, Latin. Predominantly late 19th century to early 20th century English-language. Ordered by author, with short title index. [R.446.6.]
  • Lavonne Brady Axford, English Language Cookbooks, 1600-1973. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1976.
    Good author and subject index. Good for the US.
  • William R. Cagle, A Matter of Taste: A Bibliographical Catalogue of the Gernon Collection of Books on Food and Drink. New York/London: Garland Publishing, 1990.
    Arranged by country and author or title. Full bibliographical details.
  • André L. Simon, Bibliotheca gastronomica. A Catalogue of Books and Documents on Gastronomy.... The Production, Taxation, Distribution and Consumption of Food and Drink; their Use and Abuse in all Times and Among all Peoples. London: The Wine and Food Society, 1953.
    Short, but includes works on medicine and the sciences with relevant discussions (few others do). Lists of works by subject at the end – under 'The Art of Good Living', see e.g. Tabitha Tickletooth's Dinner Question of 1860. Befits the compiler's role as the president of the Wine and Food Society.
  • Georges Vicaire, Bibliographie gastronomique. Paris: P. Rouquette et fils, 1890.
    By author; all languages, but largely French.
  • Theodora Fitzgibbon, The Food of the Western World. An Encyclopaedia of Food from Europe and North America. London: Hutchinson, 1976.
    Written by a cookery writer, this is a dictionnary of terms used in cookery.
  • Elizabeth Driver, Cookery and Household Books Published in Britain 1800-1914. Volume 2. Cookery Books Published in Britain 1875-1914 London / New York: Prospect Books, 1989.
    Some biographical information on the authors.
  • Bryant Lillywhite, London Coffee Houses. A Reference Book of Coffee Houses of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. London: Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1963.
    Covers coffee houses from 1652 to 1850 or so. A prefatory bibliographical list of other works on coffee houses. Names and addresses, followed by a section devoted to each, giving chronological information and sources.
    The French equivalent, François Fosca, Histoire des cafés de Paris. Paris: Firmin-Didot & Cie., 1934 is much weaker and very under-documented.
  • Robert J. Forbes, 'The Rise of Food Technology (1500-1900)', Janus, 1958 (47): 101-127, 139-155.
    History of food preservation, canning, additives, etc.
  • C. Georg, Verzeichnis der Literaturüber Speise und Trank bis zum Jahre 1887. Leipzig: Zentralantiquariat der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 1974.
    On gastronomy. Originally published by Hannover: Klindworth, 1888. In UL reading room, R.446.9
  • André L. Simon, Dictionary of Gastronomy. Ed. revised by Robin Howe. London: A.Deutsch, 1978.
    In UL reading room, R.446.5.
  • Stephen Mennell, All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, [1985] 1987.
    Good bibliography.
  • Gérard L'Oberlé, Les Fastes de Bacchus et de Comus ou Histoire du boire et du manger en Europe, de l'antiquité à nos jours, à travers de livres. Paris: Belfond, 1989.

Bibliography of drinking

  • André L. Simon, Bibliotheca bacchica. Bibliographie raisonnée des ouvrages imprimées avant 1600 et illustrant la soif humaine sous tous ses aspects, chez tous les peuples et dans tous les temps. vol. 1: Incunabula. London: Holland Press, 1972 [1927]
  • André L. Simon, Bibliotheca vinaria. London: The Holland Press, 1979 [1913].
    Everything ever written about wine, the grape vine, including its cultivation, teetotalism; regional sections, and the use of wine in the household
  • Ran Halévy, ed. Le grand livre des confréries des vins de France, 1971.
  • Robert J. Forbes, A Short History of the Art of Distillation from the Beginnings up to the Death of Cellier Blumenthal. E.J. Brill. Leiden 1970.
    Slightly derivative and selective, but more attention to history of science.
  • C. Anne Wilson. Water of Life: A History of Wine-Distilling and Spirits from 500 BC to AD 2000. Totnes: Prospect Books, 2007.
    A slightly bizarre and speculative account, but probably covers almost all works on distillation, manuscript or printed, since antiquity.