LOUISA RUTH HERBERT (1831-1921)
Also known as Ruth Herbert
Actress, Pre-Raphaelite Model and Star of Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret
Page written by Jennifer Carnell
Louisa Ruth Herbert circa 1860.
Louisa Ruth Herbert was the actress manager of the St. James's Theatre in London. A famous beauty, she had modelled for Dante Gabriel Rossetti for a number of works. In 1863 she starred as Lady Audley in an adaptation of Lady Audley's Secret written by George Roberts, and the following year she played Eleanor in Eleanor's Victory. Braddon greatly admired Herbert's performance as Lady Audley, and urged Edward Bulwer Lytton to go and see the play. In later life, many years after her retirement from the stage, Louisa was the author of a cookery book.
A drawing of Herbert by Rossetti, dated 1858.
Louisas striking looks and naturally blonde hair made her the ideal choice for one of her most famous roles Lady Audley in Lady Audleys Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. A pivotal scene in the novel shows Lady Audley has posed for a Pre-Raphaelite style painting and the scene was particularly apt for Herbert as she had posed for Dante Gabriel Rossetti and many other artists.
First edition of Louisa's cookery book published in 1894.
With the distinct knowledge of how many books of cookery are already before the public, it may seem presumptuous on my part to add to their number. I am led to do so from the belief that the recipes contained in this little volume - culled as they are from different nations - may embody a certain amount of novelty, agreeable to those of my readers who like to vary their ordinary routine of dishes; and I venture to hope that a few plain directions may prove of service to many a young housekeeper who finds the complicated terms contained in recipes for cooking somewhat beyond her.
USEFUL THINGS TO REMEMBER
BREAD AND PASTRY
The second and only other edition of her book, published in 1903.
This copy, which is in my possession, was a gift from Louisa
herself. Here is a page from Louisa's cookbook with an annotation in her handwriting:
'If you want to serve the "veal creams" hot - add the yolks of 3 eggs instead of the isinglass. L.R.'
Herbert's autograph, in her distinctive handwriting, signing herself as Ruth Herbert.
Recommended biography of Herbert: Virginia Surtees, The Actress and the Brewer's Wife (Norwich: Michael Russell, 1997).
Virginia Surtees, as well as being descended from Herbert, is also a leading expert on Rossetti's paintings.
Bibliography and Recommended Reading about Mary Elizabeth Braddon:
Jennifer Carnell, The Literary Lives of Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Sensation Press, 2000).
Robert Lee Wolff, Sensational Victorian: The Life and Fiction of Mary Elizabeth Braddon (New York: Garland, 1979).
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