Agnes Bertha Marshall (24 August 1855 – 29 July 1905) was an English culinary entrepreneur. She became a leading cookery writer in the Victorian period, and was dubbed the "Queen of Ices" for her works on ice cream and other frozen desserts. In a time before practical domestic refrigeration, her success increased the demand in London for ice imported from Norway.
Her 1888 cookery book included a recipe for "cornets with cream", possibly the earliest publication of the edible ice cream cone. English chef Heston Blumenthal, a recipient of multiple Michelin stars, called Marshall "one of the greatest culinary pioneers this country has ever seen".
Marshall was born in Walthamstow, Essex (now in East London). Her father, John Smith, was a clerk, but died when she was young and his widow, Susan, remarried. Marshall's early life remains obscure, but it was later written in the Pall Mall Gazette that she studied cooking from an early age, and "practised at Paris and with Vienna's celebrated chefs". She married Alfred William Marshall in 1878.
Books and school
Agnes Marshall wrote four books: Ices Plain and Fancy: The Book of Ices (1885, reissued 2018 by Mrs. A. B. Marshall), Mrs. A.B. Marshall's Book of Cookery (1888), Mrs. A.B. Marshall's Larger Cookery Book of Extra Recipes (1891), and her Fancy Ices (1894). She also gave public lectures on cooking, and ran an agency for domestic staff.
She was granted a patent in 1885 for an improved ice cream machine that could freeze a pint of ice cream in five minutes. She also suggested using liquid nitrogen to make ice cream, a method Heston Blumenthal uses today in his three star Michelin restaurant The Fat Duck.
With her husband, she established the Marshall School of Cookery in Mortimer Street, central London, in 1883, and published a weekly magazine, The Table, from 1886. The couple also sold cooking utensils and equipment.
After her death, her estate and the rights to her books were sold to Mrs Beeton's publisher, Ward Lock, "which had little interest in keeping her recipes in print." Her husband took over the business that they had run together, but it failed. Unlike Mrs Beeton, Marshall quickly faded from public memory.
Four biographical essays by Robin Weir, Peter Brears John Deith and Peter Barham were published in 1998 in one volume entitled Mrs Marshall: the Greatest Victorian Ice Cream Maker, including a facsimile of her 1885 Book of Ices.
- "Agnes Marshall: Ices and Ice Creams". Penguin Books. 16 October 2017.
- Chris Clarke (2012). "The Science of Ice Cream". p. 9. Royal Society of Chemistry,
- "The Amazing, Portable, Edible Ice Cream Cone". Smithsonian. 16 October 2017.
- Mrs A. B. Marshall: The Book of Ices (facsimile paperback: London: Grub Street Publishing, 2018 ISBN 9781911621225).
- "Rachel Cooke: my ice-cream obsession". The Guardian. 16 October 2017.
- "Twenty Questions for the Fat Duck's Heston Blumenthal". Vanity Fair. 16 October 2017.
- Felicity Cloake: "Food", New Statesman, 27 July – 9 August 1918, p. 83.
- Published by Smith Settle Ltd for Syon House ISBN 9781858251028
- Mrs Marshall, the Greatest Victorian Ice Cream Maker, with a facsimile of the Book of Ices 1885, ISBN 1-85825-102-8
- Robin Weir, ‘Marshall , Agnes Bertha (1855–1905)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 3 May 2011
- Agnes Marshall, Queen of Ice Cream, from London Canal Museum
- Food and cooking in Victorian England: a history, Andrea Broomfield, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, ISBN 0-275-98708-6, pp. 134–141
- Of sugar and snow: a history of ice cream making, Jeri Quinzio, University of California Press, 2009, ISBN 0-520-24861-9, p. 158
- Just one Cornetto?, Julia Spicer, The E List July/August 2018 ISSN 2058-2196
- Media related to Agnes Marshall at Wikimedia Commons