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Agnes Jekyll (1860-1937) was the daughter of William Graham, Liberal MP for Glasgow and patron of the Pre-Raphaelites; she had a literary and artistic childhood. After her marriage to Herbert Jekyll (soldier, public servant and wood-carver) she lived at Munstead House in Surrey, with her sister-in-law Gertrude Jekyll nearby at Munstead Wood. Agnes's gift for friendship and organisational skills made her an excellent hostess: Mary Lutyens described her house as 'the apogee of opulent comfort and order without grandeur, smelling of pot-pouri, furniture polish and wood smoke'; while Gertrude Jekyll's biographer remarked that if she 'was an artist-gardener, then Agnes was an artist-housekeeper.' Created DBE for her involvement in numerous good causes, Lady Jekyll (as she had also become) first published Kitchen Essays (1922) in The Times 'in which she was persuaded to pass on some of the wit and wisdom of her rare gift for clever and imaginative housekeeping.'
December 2009 Good Housekeeping selection. Deliciously entertaining and founded on solid hosting skills (Jekyll, who was sister-in-law to the gardening grand dame Gertrude, invited Browning and Ruskin to her first dinner party), Kitchen Essays makes a perfect present for those who thrill at the thought of clever food writing. Jekyll’s essays which were published in the 1920s with titles ranging from Tray Food to Sunday Supper, are both passionate and intelligent. Take a look at Persephone’s website or visit their enchanting little shops in London for other gift inspiration: all books celebrate wonderful, mainly female, neglected 20th century writers and are presented in the classic Persephone silver jacket and prettily designed end papers (www.persephonebooks.co.uk).