The Ladies’ Guide to Dinner Parties


Picture the scene:

You’ve time-travelled back to 1780’s Cork and are expected to through a dinner party. How will you dress? What food will you serve? And what on earth will you talk about? If only there was a helpful guide…

Well now there is – ‘The Ladies’ Guide to Dinner Parties’ – a visual anthology of Irish female social history. Using stories from diaries, letters, old newspapers and historical references, the Guide covers fashion & beauty, gossip & scandal, tasty recipes and even the most up-to-date cures for hangovers.


The Guide comes printed in A4 paper-back. It’s vividly illustrated pages come with secret tactile surprises for the reader to discover throughout.


Written, designed and illustrated by Jenny Dempsey, the Ladies’ Guide to Dinner Parties© is the first in a visual series of books telling the story of life for Irish women.



       For the past number of years, I’ve been inspired by womens’ social history. I have read much on the subject and each new fact I discover leads me to ask:     “…But what did it look like…”      In my work, I attempt to answer this question. 

By examining details from daily lives, material culture and ephemera, Author Jenny Dempsey hopes to discover the mindsets and emotions of women from our past. By creating stories and illustrations around these women to bring them back to life.

A series of visual anthologies tracing Irish female social history form the eighteenth century to the 1920s. Using stories from diaries, letters, old newspapers and historical references the Guides covers fashion & beauty, gossip & scandal, tasty recipes and the latest in medicines and technology.

Each Guide uses quirky facts, visual charm and gentle humour to entertain.. The Guides also contain a selection of handmaid, hand-inserted newspaper snippets, fabric cuttings and dried flowers to evoke each period. 

The first hand book is Guide to Dinner Parties and is set in 1780.

The second Guide, COMING SOON- a Ladies Guide to Marriage© is set in the Regency Period and gives advice on how to find a man, how to live with a man and what to do if you discover you don’t actually want a man.


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