Little is known about the English culinary authoress Hannah Wolley. Even her dates of birth and death are unknown. She was born perhaps circa 1622 and died in or after 1674. Her last name is spelled variously as Wolley, Woolly, Woolley, Wooley, etc. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, her “other married name was Challiner.” What we do know is she is the first credited woman authoress of a cookery book in England! She is the direct contemporary of the far better known Robert May and Sir Kenelm Digby. She published more works and was famous enough to even have works attributed to her, yet, she is little known today. That deserves to change. Several of her works are now available today through EEBO Editions. Look for them on Amazon.
Her works are:
The Ladies Directory (July 1661 at her own expense and 1662),
The Cooks Guide (1664),
The Queen-like Closet (1670, 1672, 1675-6, 1681, 1684),
The Ladies Delight (1672),
A Supplement To The Queen-like Closet (1674, 1681, 1684),
She is often credited as being the author of
The Gentlewomans Companion
The Compleat Servant-Maid (1677)
The Accomplish'd Ladies Delight (1675).
A recipe from The Cook's Guide: or, Rare Receipts for Cookery, 1664, shows her typical instruction for boiling a syrup to Candy height.
To candy Oranges or Lemmons after they are preserved.
TAke them out of the syrrop and drain them well, then boile some sugar to a Candy height, and lay your pills in the bottom of a five, and pour your hot sugar over them; then dry them in a stove or warme oven. [p 97]
For more information on Hannah Wolley,
Lehman, Gilly, The British Housewife. Totnes, UK: Prospect Books, 2003.
Hobby, Elaine. Virtue of Necessity: English Women's Writing, 1646-1688. London: Virago Press, 1988.
John Considine, ‘Wolley , Hannah (b. 1622?, d. in or after 1674)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
Ellison, Katherine. “Introduction to The Gentlewomans Companion.” Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections. 1999. http://womenwriters.library.emory.edu/essay.php?level=div&id=gc_complete_000