Can anyone help me with Dorothy Hartley? New TV project.

This is a plea for information about the food writer Dorothy Hartley (1893-1985) – please do pass it on to any foodies of your acquaintance…

Her seminal book Food in England was published in 1954.  All true foodies know it and love it as a wonderful, if slightly random, collection of information about the history of cooking, compiled by Dorothy Hartley on bicycle tours around the country while she was writing articles about country traditions for The Daily Sketch.

I’ve had a copy in my office forever, but must admit that I was skeptical about it at first because of the book’s lack of footnotes.  But that was the wrong way to approach it.  I value it much more now that I see it as a collection of oral histories about food – Dorothy was interviewing the last generation of rural people with whom there was some sort of connection straight back to the Tudors, before industrialisation, mass production, mechanisation and ready-meals came in.

I’ve just started a year-long project to make a film about Dorothy Hartley’s life (for wonderful BBC4 of course) and we hope to travel the country throughout the coming seasons.  Last weekend we tried out the recipe for brawn (pictured) (and disgusting!Perhaps some of the pig’s ear-wax got left in by mistake).

Because Dorothy only died in 1985, we’re sure that people will still have memories of her, either on her research tours, or at her various homes, Skipton in Yorkshire, Rempstone in Nottinghamshire or Froncysylltau near Llangollen in north Wales.  If you’ve got any info please do get in touch either with me, or with our project’s director David Parker at Available Light.

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