“In conversing with gentlemen, try to not fall into the too common practice of talking to them nothing but nonsense...”
First published in 1876, Complete Etiquette for Ladies aimed to instruct English women of all ages and situations on the finer points of proper comportment in Victorian society. Penned by Samuel Orchart Beeton – husband of the renowned cookery writer Isabella – it offers a view of ideal feminine conduct at once strikingly familiar and charmingly antiquated. Resolving such troublesome issues as how to display good sense when shopping, avoid busy-body neighbours and deal with disappointed affections, it also issues stern warnings: a reputation might be lost by such simple improprieties as offering a gentleman an opinion on financial matters, uttering the word 'stomach' to anyone other than a physician, or wearing ribbons at the breakfast table.
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Samuel Orchart Beeton was an English publisher, best known as the husband of Mrs Beeton (Isabella Mary Mayson) and publisher of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.
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