Harriet Anne De Salis (1829-1908), who usually referred to herself in her books as, simply, “Mrs. De Salis,” was one of Victorian Britain’s most prolific—and most enterprising—food writers. At a time in which responsibility for household food preparation had begun to shift from kitchen domestics to the “home maker” herself, Mrs. De Salis provided instruction and encouragement in magazine articles and later through a blizzard of special subject books, which were very well received and sold extremely well. In 1886 she offered the first of what she came to refer to as her à la mode series. By the time of her death in 1908, this first book, Savouries à la Mode, was about to go into its twentieth printing. As with all of these titles, the savouries book was written so that the “lady of the house” might use it herself, following the recipes, or to browse it, making menu choices that could then be passed along to a cook. The recipes are in prose form, with measurements, when required, being simply incorporated into the text.
The à la mode series, consisting of little single-subject books, contributed substantially to the wide recognition accorded the Victorian writer, editor, and teacher, Harriet De Salis. Ultimately the series ran to ten “official” titles, along with a few “extras.” The current offering is for all ten, listed below in, as best we can determine, their order of publication. Four of these are first editions. These books are, in general, not abundant, and several of them are rarely encountered. Full sets of this series are extremely scarce.
SAVOURIES À LA MODE (1886). This copy, Twentieth Impression, is dated 1909. Front and rear endpapers are yellowed, probably from prior contact with high-acid paper; no damage. Very Good.
ENTREES À LA MODE (1887). First edition. Cover scuffed, and there are endpaper discolorations, probably from exposure to high-acid paper or chemically active glue. Sound binding, clean interior. Very Good-minus.
SOUPS & DRESSED FISH À LA MODE (ca. 1887). Fifth Edition, 1893. Case in outstanding clean condition. Binding is sound, interior clean and fresh. Very Good.
OYSTERS À LA MODE (1888). First edition. Cover scuffed, corners worn, small bare patch from earlier sticker or label, some fading on spine, rear paste-down has markings from old water damage. Text clean, binding sound, so we rate it Good.
SWEETS & SUPPER DISHES À LA MODE (1888). First edition. Identified in the preface as the fifth book in the series. The cover is somewhat darkened from age, endpapers have acid-environment yellowing. Otherwise Very Good copy—clean, sound.
DRESSED GAME AND POULTRY À LA MODE (prob 1888; preface so dated). Second Edition, 1893. Other than a little edge-wear to the case, a very good looking copy. Very Good.
DRESSED VEGETABLES À LA MODE (prob. 1890). Third Edition, 1892. Corners of cover worn, but type all clear and sharp; quite nice looking copy. Good-plus.
PUDDINGS & PASTRY À LA MODE (prob. 1890; preface dated 1889). Sixth Impression, 1898. Moderate wear to case, with small hole in binding fabric, but interior clean, fresh, binding strong. Very Good copy.
CAKES AND CONFECTIONS À LA MODE (prob.1890; preface dated 1889). Seventh Impression, 1905. De Salis writes in her preface that “my a la mode series of Cookery Books [is] now complete; and to confirm this I write these few lines, as well as to again thank the public and the press for their very kind reception of my little works.” Some wear, light browning at edges; inconspicuous patch lower front of case where a label has apparently been removed. Interior clean, binding sound. Very Good.
NATIONAL VIANDS À LA MODE (1895) First edition. De Salis back for just one more farewell appearance! Interesting book, including 26 “American and Canadian” recipes, a fascinating selection. Minor age browning at edge of case, very small holes in binding fabric, otherwise an excellent copy. Very Good.