SHEILA HARDY was a teacher and lecturer of English and History before becoming a full-time writer. Her previous biographies include The Story of Anne Candler; Treason's Flame, The Diary of a Suffolk Farmer's Wife and Frances, Lady Nelson: the Life and Times of an Admirable Wife. She has also written numerous histories of her native Suffolk and has given talks in the county for over thirty years. She lives in Ipswich.
'What is the greatest British cookbook of all time? Not Mrs Beeton, given that she pinched most of her recipes from other people. Nor is it Elizabeth David, since she mostly ignored British food - all of these writers owe a debt to a Victorian spinster from Tonbridge - Eliza Acton is not quite a household name. She deserves to be.' Bee Wilson, The Telegraph '[Eliza Acton] is a brilliant subject for exploration and her book is one of the very few from which it is possible to work easily and get wonderful results - I truly rate her.' Dr Annie Gray, Historic Food and Dining ' - she's an amazing subject and worthy of any enquiry - after all, she did write what is still the best cookery book written in the English language.' Jyll Bradley, author of the play Before Mrs Beeton: the Eliza Acton Story