Eliza Acton (1799-1859) was a poet and writer of the first domestic cookbook
Eliza was born in Sussex, but her family were from Ipswich and they returned here when she was a baby. Her mother was Elizabeth Mercer and her father the brewer John Acton. They lived in Dock Street right by his work at St Peter's Brewery. As a teenager, Eliza and a friend opened a ‘boarding school for young ladies' in Claydon.
Heartbroken after her engagement to a French army officer was broken off, she started to write poetry and had a volume published in 1826 - several others followed over subsequent years. She never married, and left Ipswich to live in Kent. It is said that when in the 1840s she presented another book of poetry to her publisher, he sighed and suggested she write a cookbook instead. She set about interviewing chefs and epicures, and in 1845 she published Modern Cookery for Private Families. It was an enormous success as it was the first cook book listing measured ingredients as well as method.
Later she was eclipsed by Mrs Beeton, but Suffolk's Delia Smith has adapted some of her recipes in her own cookbooks, including ‘Eliza Acton's Rich Rice Pudding'.