Before The 1900 House I got some perverse pleasure out of imagining that all Victorian kitchens were akin to the Gothic scullery in the Gormenghast Trilogy, hellishly hot and governed by a terrifying head chef brandishing a meat cleaver. I kid. Anyway, Chow's blog The Grinder has the 411 on the new PBS special "The Secret Life of Mrs. Beeton," author of "a massive 1861 tome that instructed Victorian housewives on how to be a crinolined domestic goddess."
The PBS site reveals that Mrs. Beeton was not a middle-aged matron. In fact, she died of a "dark secret" at the youngish age of 28.