A Thousand Ways to Please

By Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian

To celebrate National Poetry Month, we are sharing poems from our collection throughout April.

Two of my favorite books in the library’s collection have, by all accounts, not aged well.

Novelized household and cooking guides, A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband (1917) and its sequel, A Thousand Ways to Please a Family (1922), present the life of Bettina, her husband Bob, their oft-visiting friends and family, and in the sequel, their son Robin and daughter Sue. Bettina constantly doles out advice to her friends (who, as this is fiction, are always happy to receive it), including this look back on how to select a refrigerator in the 1910s:

Bettina's refrigerator-buying tips. Pages 84-85 of Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, 1917.

Bettina’s refrigerator-buying tips. Pages 84-85 of Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, 1917. Click to enlarge.

That Bettina sure knows everything.

Both books span the course of a year, and each month begins with a poem. Here are the poems for April from both volumes:

April poem from Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, 1917.

April poem from Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, 1917.

April poem from Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Family, 1922.

April poem from Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Family, 1922.

And from May:

May poem from Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, 1917.

May poem from Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband, 1917.

May poem from Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Family, 1922.

May poem from Weaver, A Thousand Ways to Please a Family, 1922.

Though the gender politics are dated, the household advice based on nearly 100-year-old technologies and trends, and the food not always tempting to the modern palate, these books (both available in full online) remain fascinating looks into an idealized home life in the 1910s and early 1920s.

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