Gary Dexter

Surprising literary ventures | 15 October 2005

Surprising literary ventures

Text settings

The Recipe Book of the Mustard Club (1926)

Dorothy L. Sayers

And he replied: ‘The flames unquenchable

That fire them from within thus make them
Ruddy, as thou seest, in this, the Nether

It is unlikely that when Dorothy L. Sayers produced the lines above she was thinking of mustard: unlikely, but not impossible. The distinguished translator of Dante (and creator of Lord Peter Wimsey) was, in her early career, a copy-writer for Benson’s, an advertising agency whose most important client was Colman’s of Norwich. While there, she wrote, among several other mustard-related items, The Recipe Book of the Mustard Club. The club was at first fictional, featuring characters such as the Baron de Beef and the club secretary Miss Di Gester, but became so popular that real memberships were issued, running to about half a million in the club’s pre-war heyday. Sayers littered the text with quotations from Shakespeare and other classical authors (though not Dante). She personally added next to a recipe for Devilled Beef: ‘Who sups on a devil should have Mustard in his spoon.’