Eliza Acton is the forgotten hero of our culinary past. A debt of gratitude to her is what Delia Smith, Elizabeth David and Mrs Beeton have in common. She was the original and best: the first cook to write recipes in a clear, modern format, one of the few Victorian ladies whose legacy has lasted well into the twenty-first century and whose recipes are still used in thousands of kitchens today. In this absorbing first biography, Sheila Hardy creates a richly painted narrative of how a young woman produced the first cookery book for general use and changed history. She provides a rich background to Eliza's success, not only as the little-known mother of modern cookery, but as a poet and a campaigner for healthy eating. She introduced us to curry, chorizo and gluten-free diets 150 years before they became fashionable. She knew Charles Dickens, and her family life was possibly an inspiration for several of his plots. She had a fascinating career, and this brilliantly researched biography is a must for anyone interested in food and cookery, or simply as an insight into the life of a modern lady who was years ahead of her time.