Maria Eliza Rundell (1745–1828) was a 19th-century British author of cookery books. Well known for her economically responsible ideas, Rundell was admired throughout the classes, although she often referred to her work as necessary for the "'modern' middleclass housewife". A New System of Domestic Cookery was Rundell’s first book and a bestseller. It continued to be published, in revised form, throughout the next thirty-six years and was even translated into German.
Rundell is still known for her thoughts on household management, remedies, penny-saving meals, and the role of a woman in her home. She has been called "the original domestic goddess" and her book "a publishing sensation".
Maria Rundell, born to Abel Johnstone Ketelby of Ludlow, Shropshire, had no siblings. Her husband, Thomas Rundell, was either a surgeon or a partner of a silversmith and jeweler company. In 1806, Maria was living in Swansea and collecting recipes, household management tips, and herbal remedies to send to her married daughters. Rundell sent a compilation to a family friend, John Murray, who happened to be a well-established publisher. The pieces were put together under the name of A New System of Domestic Cookery, edited and illustrated, and published in 1808. Rundell's book instantly became a bestseller. Between 1814 and 1821, Rundell encountered difficulties with Murray and filed an injunction against him. Eventually the two came to a resolution, and Rundell walked away with around two thousand pounds and Murray with the book rights. Domestic Cookery continued to be published until 1841 in its 65th edition. Maria Rundell died in 1828, predeceased by her husband.
Rundell's A New System of Domestic Cookery was known not only for its economic responsibility, cultural adaptability, and its preference for personal responsibility, but her ideas about women's roles within the home were admired as well. She believed that a housewife should have all the mechanics required to run a proper household, including education and independence. Rundell advocated bettering oneself and one's family. In the beginning of her book, she provides a brief glimpse into her attitudes. At one point she says, "we sometimes bring up children in the manner calculate rather to fit them for the station we wish, than that which it is likely they will possess." She continues to discuss the process of finding contentment and happiness in one’s life, independently of class, education, or gender. These were novel ideas in a time when someone's status determined their worth.