Leslie, Eliza (1787–1858)

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Leslie, Eliza (1787–1858)

American writer who produced one of the earliest American cookbooks. Name variations: Betsey Leslie. Born Elizabeth Leslie on November 15, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died on January 1 (some sources cite January 2), 1858, in Gloucester, New Jersey; buried in St. Peter's churchyard in Philadelphia; eldest of five children of Robert Leslie (a self-taught mathematician and a watchmaker) and Lydia (Baker) Leslie; educated at home; never married; no children.

The daughter of a watchmaker who was a friend of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, Eliza Leslie was born in 1787 in Philadelphia, and grew up there and in London, where the family resided for six and a half years when she was a child. Following their return to the United States and the death of Eliza's father in 1803, the family fell on hard times, and Eliza and her mother Lydia were forced to open a boardinghouse. In the mid-1820s, along with her mother, Eliza moved to West Point to live with her brother Thomas Jefferson Leslie, an army engineer who was serving as treasurer of the military academy.

Eliza, who was educated at home, began writing verse as a youngster, but her first published work was the cookbook Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats. It was followed by several collections of children's stories, the first of which was titled The Mirror. Her initial story for adult readers, "Mrs. Washington Potts," resulted in frequent contributions to the magazine Godey and Graham. Leslie's magazine articles were later collected in three volumes under the title Pencil Sketches. She also produced several more cookbooks and a manual on etiquette, The Behavior Book, which enjoyed several editions. Her only novel-length work was Amelia; or A Young Lady's Vicissitudes. Eliza Leslie died on January 1, 1858.

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Leslie, Eliza (1787–1858)

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