Medicines & Recipes in 17th c. England

MEDICINE. COOKERY. Grey, Elizabeth [née Lady Elizabeth Talbot], Countess of Kent (1582–1651)

A choice manual, or, Rare and select secrets in physick and chyrurgery: collected, and practised by the Right Honourable, the Countesse of Kent, late deceased. Whereto are added several experiments of the vertue of Gascon powder, and lapis contra yarvam by a professor of physick. As also most exquisite waies of preserving, conserving, candying &c.

London: Printed for Henry Mortlock, at the Phoenix in St. Paul 1682


Long 24mo: 10.5 x 6 cm. A-R12, S6


Bound in contemporary blind-ruled calf, rebacked. Complete with the engraved portrait frontispiece. A fine copy. K1 lower corner small natural paper flaw affecting a few letters, corner of C1 frayed. Div. title to second part, "A true gentlewomans delight" has separate dated title page and pagination; register is continuous.”

Extremely rare in all editions. ESTC records 3 copies total: 1 in the U.K, 1 in Germany, 1 in the U.S. (Folger). Of all editions combined , ESTC located a mere 10 copies in the U.S. (Yale, NLM, NYPL, UCLA, Folger, Chicago, Vassar, Stanford.)

The “A Choice Manual” published under the name of Elizabeth Grey “is a collection of household recipes, published with her “A True Gentlewomans Delight, Wherein is Contained all Manner of Cookery.” The collections were edited with additions by W. Jar, “a professor of physick.” While “A Choice Manual” and “A True Gentlewoman’s Delight” have separate title pages and pagination, and are sometimes bound separately, they were printed and sold as a single work. The first part is mainly medicinal, while the second is entirely culinary, although some of the ingredients in the medicinal recipes now seem more like food than medicine.

“Elizabeth Talbot Grey (1581-1651) was the eldest daughter of Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and a granddaughter of Bess of Hardwick. She married Henry Grey, Earl of Kent in 1601. She was well educated, a patron of scholars and poets, and the employer of Robert May, famous for his book “The Accomplisht Cook” (1660). She was known for her medical knowledge. Her sister, Alethea Howard, Countess of Arundel, shared her interests, and published her own recipe collection, “Natura Exenterata.” “A True Gentlewomans Delight” includes a recipe for Lady of Arundel’s Manchet (white bread).
The first edition of the Countess’s compilation was printed in 1653. Instead of addressing a nobleman, the dedication of A Choice Manual is to “the virtuous and most noble Lady, Latitia Popham,” the wife of a supporter of Oliver Cromwell, and “A True Gentlewomans Delight” is dedicated to Mistress Anne Pile, a baronet’s daughter. The book was a bestseller, with many updated editions. The 22nd and last edition was published in 1726.”(Emily Epstein, Rare Book Profile: Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kent’s Choice Manual, Strauss Health Sciences Library)

ESTC R216640; Oxford p.23-24; Wing K316; cf. Cagle 787

ESTC Census of copies of editions in U.S.:
Yale 1653
Vassar 1653
NLM 1654
Folger 1661
NYPL, LC 1659
UCLA 1671
Folger 1682
Chicago (2) 1687
Stanford, Chicago 1708
NLM 1726