This past week, I witnessed an absolutely ridiculous attack on American writers (specifically) of Regency-set romances. A couple of English people declared that American writers as a whole simply didn’t know what they hell we were talking about and maybe we should visit England to gain a clue. What was their proof? Muffins. Americans keep putting MUFFINS in their books and no one in England has ever heard of a muffin, English or otherwise. These are not a thing. English people do not eat them. Never have. Never will.
When I responded that they were good enough for Jane Austen and Hannah Glasse, I got blocked.
So, in case any of you need it, here is my Defense of Muffins in Georgian Fiction:
Firstly, here is the infamous Muffin Man himself, hawking his wears way back in the 1750s.
Oh, what is this? Is this the famous author Samuel Richardson writing of an Englishman eating muffins for breakfast? Clearly this cannot be…
What do I spy with my little eye? Why it’s a record of the cries of the street vendors of London in 1777. What are they hawking? Muffins!
Whatever can this be? Is it a political poem about Fox and Pitt involving toasted, buttered muffins? How un-English can you get!
Oh, look. Even that scallywag David Garrick is in on hoodwinking poor Americans into thinking muffins existed.
The rhyme that you are all probably familiar with, recorded in a manuscript c. 1820.
Clearly one can not trust a book entirely devoted to the baking of bread! What rapscallion time travelled back and inserted an entire second on the anachronistic muffin?
How dare Maria Edgeworth write characters who love muffins! Surely this must be a mistranslation (from English into English!).
I don’t know who this “Lady” is, but clearly she is not to be trusted as her domestic guide includes fake things like muffins. Muffins which no Englishman has ever heard of, let alone eaten.
I am trying to determine when the English went off the muffin, leaving themselves with only the crumpet for comfort. Oscar Wilde features them in his work. So do P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Sayers. In fact, they appear to have been Lord Peter’s favorite food.
My food history friends blame the depredations of WWII. Rationing has much to answer for when it comes to British cookery. Whatever the reason for the disappearance of muffins in the UK (at least according to Hawt Take UK Twitter), please rest assured that they were beloved and clearly being consumed at least up until WWII.