Old Book – The Mushroom Book

I’ve recently been looking at some old mushrooming books that are now, due to their age, in the public domain.

These books are freely available for download from The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org) but you may also download them from here.

Today I have selected was the The Mushroom Book by Nina L. Marshall and first published in 1901 (more details at This book’s page at The Internet Archive.)

This book (to use its full title…The mushroom book. A popular guide to the identification and study of our commoner fungi, with special emphasis on the edible varieties) is a 276 page book with plenty of illustrative line drawings and mainly black & white photographs.




The few coloured photographs in this edition (the downloadable pdf is, in fact, the 1923 edition) seem to be hand coloured.

I feel that the author may have been more interested in mushrooms from a scientific perspective than from a gastronomic one, as this short and sparse entry for Bloetus Edulis suggests…

Edible Boletus

Boletus edulis

Cap - Convex or   nearly plane; smooth, moist; compact, then soft. Greyish red, brownish red, or tawny brown. 4-6 inches broad.

Flesh - White or yellowish; reddish beneath the skin.

Tubes – Convex, nearly free, long, minute, round. White, then yellow and greenish.

Stem  - Short or long, straight or curving, sometimes bulbous, stout, covered with network. Just beneath the sterp whitish or brownish. 2-6 inches long.

Habitat Thin woods.


Now, nothing wrong with that accurate description but… it didn’t get me licking my lips.

It must be said though, that the author does start this book with the following words, so I may have misjudged her?

FOR centuries epicures have used certain fungi for food.

The Greeks and Romans esteemed them highly, and gave a great deal of consideration to favourable times and places for gathering them, and to choice methods of preparing them for the table.

Juvenal tells us of one old Roman enthusiast who was so carriedaway by his love for them as to exclaim, “Keep your corn, O Libya, unyoke your oxen, provided only you send us mushrooms!”

Horace says that mushrooms which grow in the fields are the best, and that one can have but little faith in other kinds.

Mushroom eaters of the present day would perhaps not agree with him, for they find edible species in every imaginable place where fungi grow, and are constantly adding to their list new varieties which they esteem delicious.

In conclusion, The Mushroom Book is an interesting read and is well worth the download.

The Mushroom Book may be downloaded by right clicking here and choosing to  save as (it might read Save Link As on some browsers.)

All the best

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