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The epicure's almanack - Ralph Rylance

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The epicure's almanack - eating and drinking in Regency London : the original 1815 guidebook
Ralph Rylance
Paperback / softback
British Library Publishing
UK Publication Date

With websites like Yelp and television networks dedicated exclusively to food, today's foodie need not look far for advice on what and where to eat next. But before Zagat and the Michelin star, there was Ralph Rylance (1782-1834) and The Epicure's Almanack, or Guide to Good Living, his listing of more than 650 eating establishments, taverns, inns, and hotels in and around London in the early nineteenth century. Working single-handedly and on foot, Rylance investigated and reported on a broad range of restaurants, from haughty chophouses and suburban tea gardens to humble tripe shops and dockyard taverns, as well as London's first Indian restaurant. He also gives an account of London's markets, featuring an inventory of merchants selling everything from anchovy sauce to kitchen stoves.

Published in 1815, The Epicure's Almanack was never updated or reprinted and was never truly emulated until 1968, when the Good Food Guide to London was first issued. Reproduced here with an introduction by Janet Ing Freeman, and accompanied by extensive notes, indexes, and many details from a contemporary map of London, this extraordinary edition vividly brings back to life the tastes, smells, and culture of Regency England and is a must-read for lovers of London and food alike.

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Ralph Rylance, born at Bolton in 1782, moved from Lancashire to London in 1806, hoping to make his mark as a poet and dramatist. Literary success eluded him, however, and Rylance was forced instead to support himself by working for various publishers as ghostwriter, editor, translator, proofreader, and indexer. Affected by what would today be called bipolar syndrowme or manic depression-a condition unnamed and barely understood in his own day-rylance was institutionalized several times, and died in a London asylum in 1834.

“A delight, both for casual dipping and sustained reading, as well as a significant contribution to social history.”

Times Literary Supplement

“A publishing revelation, The Epicure's Almanack of 1815 was the first London good food guide. . . . An excellent and readable new edition.”


“With [The Epicure's Almanack's] republication, we can reopen the time capsule, and gaze inside the manners and mores of nineteenth-century diners and drinkers.”

Independent (UK)

"A fascinating artifact."

British Food in America

Keyword Index
Restaurants - England - London - Guidebooks.|London (England) - Guidebooks.
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