Henry James’s English Hours (1905)

Chief among James’s observations of Derby Day at Epsom is his astonishment at the picnicking on the carriage tops. It was a sight of madness. “The crowd was very animated; that is the most succinct description I can give of it. The horses of course had...
Gustave Dore’s London, A Pilgrimage (1872)

Gustave Dore’s London, A Pilgrimage (1872)

Doré visited Epsom on Derby Day 1869 and concentrated on its carnival atmosphere; the throngs and tumult on the ground and the champagne luncheons on carriage tops in London: A Pilgrimage (1872). Blanchard Jerold’s text describes the scene as being in perpetual tumult...
William B. Jerrold’s “Picnic Reform” (1869)

William B. Jerrold’s “Picnic Reform” (1869)

According to Jerrold, editor of The Epicure’s Year Book for 1869, British “Picnic- frequenters” need to radically reform their “picnic gastronomy.” First off, Jerrold commands you must eliminate the ordinary. “Could anything be more...
Elizabeth David and Picnics

Elizabeth David and Picnics

David pungently explained that her first cookery book Hilda Leyel’s The Gentle Art of Cookery (1925), and that if she had first come on Mrs. Beeton’s Household Management, she would have never learned to cook. Picnics signaled the start and the end of...
M.F.K. Fisher’s “The Pleasures of Picnics” (1957)

M.F.K. Fisher’s “The Pleasures of Picnics” (1957)

In “The Pleasures of Picnics,” Fisher set her rules for picnics in stone. Foremost she declared people who do not like picnics must be “dismissed immediately.” Fisher’s “true” picnic (and maybe yours?) must be outdoors and away from home. “It can consist of a piece of...