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The Culinary Art of Pauline Baynes

November 23, 2009
Meat by Pauline Baynes

After the Pauline Baynes archive came to the Chapin Library last February, Wayne showed some of her art to Darra Goldstein, Professor of Russian at Williams College and editor of Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, pointing out that Pauline Baynes (1922–2008), best known as the ‘Narnia’ artist, had also illustrated three cookbooks: Recipes from an Old Farmhouse by Alison Uttley (1966), Kitchen Essays by Lady Jekyll (1968), and The Times Cookery Book by Katie Stewart (1972). Prof. Goldstein asked Wayne to write about these books for the journal’s recurring ‘Feast for the Eye’ column, and the result, ‘The Culinary Art of Pauline Baynes’, is in the new (Fall 2009) number, pp. 8–10.

Our personal culinary experiences with Pauline involved good English country food, either at her home in Surrey or at a local restaurant or pub – always satisfying, and always memorable. Wayne recorded the elements of one meal at Pauline’s cottage, which we enjoyed on 16 June 1994: prawns, thin sliced smoked salmon, asparagus spears, lettuce hearts, cherry tomatoes, mayonnaise, potato salad, bread and butter, white wine, apple juice, mixed summer fruit and cream, and chocolate gateau with white cream frosting. Pauline felt that this was meagre fare to be offering to guests, but our response was that of Mole to Rat’s picnic basket:

‘What’s inside it?’ asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.

‘There’s cold chicken inside it,’ replied the Rat briefly; ‘coldtonguecoldham-coldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscressandwidgespottedmeatginger-beerlemonadesodawater — ’

‘O stop, stop,’ cried the Mole in ecstasies: ‘This is too much!’

— Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (1908)

Pauline also made the best cup of tea in Britain.

Image: Pauline Baynes, Meat, 1968, pen and ink, for Lady Jekyll, Kitchen Essays © Williams College Oxford Programme by bequest of the artist, reproduced courtesy of the Chapin Library, Williams College. All rights reserved.

  1. December 13, 2009 6:27 pm

    A wonderful new weblog – thanks for taking the time, Wayne and Christina! It baffles me how you find the time to research and write your books as well as being librarians AND while clearly managing to read so many books too. And I speak as a librarian and author (though pursuing neither at the level of yourselves, and having a number of other interests that take up my own free time). But I’m glad you do. Pauline’s art was, and remains, singular, mesmerising and delightful -and whatever the nature of the book you’re both creating on the subject, I’m very much looking forward to it.

  2. December 14, 2009 7:12 am

    Thanks for your kind words, Colin. Of course, there’s never enough time to write everything we’d like to write, let alone read the many interesting books that come to hand, seriously listen to music, etc., etc. But we do our best!

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