New film reveals story behind Northumberland's 18th century answer to Nigella Lawson

The story of a Northumberland cookery book writer with worldwide renown is being brought to life for a new generation.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 10:47 am

Hannah Glasse was the Nigella Lawson of her day, after her book ‘The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy’ was a bestseller for more than a century.

The 18th century writer’s book was owned by the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and had more than 40 editions, however she is still relatively unknown.

Now a partnership between Northumberland Archives and November Club will shine a light on the famous writer, whose recipes include a cure for the plague.

Eighteenth century cookery writer Hannah Glasse was the Nigella Lawson of her day.

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Covid Recovery Fund, Northumberland Archives commissioned November Club to make a short film about Hannah Glasse.

She was born in 1708, the illegitimate daughter of Isaac Allgood of Nunwick, Simonburn. Her book was published in 1747 and was an instant sensation, selling in large numbers throughout the English speaking world. However, her personal financial circumstances forced her to sell the copyright meaning she never reaped the full benefit of her success.

The film will be made available on Northumberland Archives website for use by schools, life-long learners and individuals. A series of family activities will also be developed and the film will also ask families to share their family recipes as part of the project.

Nigel Walsh, head of cultural services at Northumberland County Council said: “We are delighted to be working with November Club on this exciting project in bringing to life this important character in Northumberland’s history.

A film has been made about Hannah Glasse an 18th century cookery writer from Northumberland. Picture: November Club

“The film is based on a number of family letters which are available in the archives. Hannah’s is a fascinating story of a world-renowned cook and writer who because of personal circumstances has gone largely unknown in history.

“We are looking to continue our work with November Club to share more stories from the archives in a more interactive way.

Joe Hufton, artistic director at November Club said: “It is brilliant that two Northumberland organisations have been able to come together in this way.

"Hannah is regarded as the pioneer of easy-to-understand recipes and our film will give you further insight into her approach as we encourage you to have a go and share your own recipes through Northumberland Archives. We hope to bring you more films later in the year, as we pay tribute to this incredible Northumbrian woman.”

NIgella Lawson.

Fiona Ellis, writer said: “I am so pleased that the extraordinary Hannah Glasse is at last being recognised for the entrepreneur and pioneer that she was. She was a true Northumberland heroine with a fascinating life and real love of her county. It is time we repaid her affection.”

You can share family recipes and find out more at where you can also watch the video. A Facebook page has also been set up – Hannah Glasses’s Art of Cookery where recipes and food challenges from the 18th century to the present day will be posted for people to try and discuss.

If you want to find out more about Hannah Glasse the Archives team will be hosting a virtual talk with Ivan Day about her and her rivalry with other local cook Ann Cook on May 27. Go to and search for Northumberland Archives.

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