To My Fellow Housekeepers, North, East, South and West:
Thirty-one years ago I wrote, dedicated to you, and sent to press, Common Sense in the Household.
The daring step was taken in direct opposition to the advice of all who knew my purpose. I was assured that I should lose the modest measure of literary reputation I had won by novels, short stories and essays if I persisted in the ignoble enterprise.
One critic forewarned me that "whatever I might write after this preposterous new departure would be tainted, for the imaginative reader and reviewer, with the odor of the kitchen."
He may have been right. I do not know nor do I care whether his judgment or mine was the better. I gave my first cook-book to you because I knew from my own experience, as a young, raw and untaught housekeeper, that you needed just what I had to say. The hundreds of thousands of copies which have been sold, the thousands of grateful letters received from my toiling sisters, testify to that need and that to me was appointed the gracious task of supplying it.
Under the impulse of a conviction as solemn and as strong I offer you now a work embodying the best results of mature Housewifery. Or, as I would rather name it, Housemotherhood. Before I put pen to paper I stipulated that the contract with the publishers of The Complete Cook Book should contain a clause forbidding me to prepare and issue any book of a similar character during the next ten years.
Whatever I have to say to you through the medium of a printed and bound volume in all these years must be said here.
I have had this thought in my mind with the writing of every page. In every page, in every line, in every word I have done my best to serve you. I know you well enough to be assured that you will not forget this. If such a thing might be I would have every dish compounded according to my directions a souvenir to each of you of one who has given thirty-odd of the best years of a busy life to the task of dignifying housewifery into a profession, and ennobling the practice of it in your eyes.
For the fair degree of success which has followed these efforts I am thankful. Thankful, too, to those of you whose appreciation of my aim and my work has held up weary hands and stayed the failing heart.
This talk, made purposely as "familiar" as if I were face-to-face with each of you, is not a valedictory, but an au revoir. The book in your hands contains the gleanings of an active decade. Housewifery keeps pace with other professions in the swinging march of an Age of Wonders. I have faith in it and in myself to believe that I shall go on with the fascinating work of accumulating. I add, hopefully, I have also faith in you that, in the future as in the thirty years overpast, you will aid me in that accumulation.