‘Cottage Economy’ by William Cobbett: Mini Book Review

David Russell Mosley


Feast of St Mary Magdalene
22 July 2013
Beeston, Nottinghamshire

Dear Friends and Family,

In that same post on facebook and twitter I mention here, another thing people asked for was more book reviews. To that end, I have collected some of my book reviews written on goodreads and shelfari and will repost them. I may occasionally expand them and will eventually get to a point where I start writing more reviews for the blog, but for the time being, I hope you enjoy my mini book reviews.

Cottage Economy by William Cobbett:

Portrait of William Cobbett for use on the Wil...

Portrait of William Cobbett for use on the William Cobbett article . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the book Cottage Economy William Cobbett seeks to teach labourers and tradesmen how they can produce much of their own food and drink so they will no longer be dependent on the Government (who taxes them too much) nor their local publicans (who poison them). Somewhat haphazardly, Cobbett goes through all the things he thinks someone with forty rods of land can do for themselves, namely: brew beer instead of tea; bake bread; raise a cow; chickens; pigs; a goat; enough vegetables for the table; bees; and more. The book rounds off with a few recipes from Mrs Cobbett.

What Cobbett lacks in food science he makes up for in passion for being self-sufficient. Cobbett sees tea as atrocious and the tea table fit only to teach boys to lazy and girls to be harlots. He is unaware of the health benefits, but he understands that the time taken to brew tea, in an age before electric kettles, could be put to better use. Cobbett also hates potatoes, but only because he sees them being eaten in place of bread. One could not come away from Cobbett’s Cottage Economy with the tools necessary to live as he describes. The book is too much a product of its time. Nevertheless, this book can inspire us to do more, to be better connected to our food and drink and to work more for our meals. Many of the things Cobbett describes, when done well, are still cheaper when done at home than when we pay others to do them for us. I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in food, brewing, and growing vegetables.

Sincerely yours,
David Russell Mosley