Food and Fiction

Ref: C3671014

Chaucer's monk loves to eat roast swan, Shakespeare's Toby Belch prefers 'cakes and ale', and a Dickens concludes 'A Christmas Carol' with a glass of smoking Bishop shared by Scrooge and Bob Cratchitt. Food can be a key to character, part of the atmosphere, even an essential plot device, and social history comes alive in these descriptions of how people obtained, prepared, and relished their meals. This is a course for anyone who loves reading or eating - or both.

Course aim

The course introduces students to food history up to the late nineteenth century, as mirrored in the work of great writers.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • - Give an outline in broad terms of some changes in eating patterns between 1400 and 1900.
  • - Point to examples in novels, poetry and drama of how food is used by writers to enhance atmosphere, plot or characterisation.
  • - Suggest examples of the above from my own reading or viewing of filmed classics.
  • - (Optional) Research and prepare a dish from a pre-1900 recipe.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full Course information sheet

Food and Fiction


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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