Mrs. Agnes Marshall (1855 – 1905) was the most celebrated cook of her day; the equivalent to today’s TV celebrity chefs. She wrote four books: The Book of Ices 1885, Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Book of Cookery 1888, Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Larger Cookery Book of Extra Recipes 1891, and Fancy Ices 1894. These are considered to be some of the finest books of their type ever written, especially those on ices, of which Mrs. Marshall was the undisputed authority. Her recipes are clear, accurate, and well-illustrated.
She ran a domestic staff agency, sold cooking equipment, and ran a successful cookery school. She even patented an ice-cream machine which could freeze in five minutes. As well as campaigning for better standards of food hygiene, she toured extensively, lecturing and demonstrating her techniques to huge audiences and she has been credited with the invention of the edible ice-cream cone, mentioned in her 1888 cookery book, in the recipe for cornets with cream. Prior to the edible cone, ice cream had been served in glass ‘licks’.
The story of her amazing life is all too short, which sadly ended as the result of a fall from a horse in a riding accident at the age of only 49. As a result Mrs. Marshall has been largely neglected by historians, and is not famous today, unlike the ubiquitous Mrs. Beeton but this may now be set to change with an exhibition entitled Scoop of the Century which will run from mid-June to September at Gasholders in Kings Cross – the world’s first ever exhibition exploring the history, science, art and mythologies of ice-cream – and which will also celebrate the life and work of this incredible culinary pioneer.
To coincide with the exhibition Grub Street is producing a facsimile paperback edition of Mrs Marshall’s most popular work, The Book of Ices.