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About the book
  • Published: 19 November 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099514947
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528
  • RRP: $29.99

A History of English Food

A personal history of English food by one of our best-loved food writers

In this major new history of English food Clarissa Dickson Wright takes the reader on a journey from the feasts of medieval kings to the cuisine – both good and bad – of the present day. She looks at the shifting influences on the national diet as new ideas and ingredients have arrived, and immigrant communities have made their contribution to the life of the country. She evokes lost worlds of open fires and ice houses, of endless pickling and preserving, and of manchet loaves and curly-coated pigs. And she tells the stories of the chefs, cookery book writers, gourmets and gluttons who have shaped public taste, from the salad-loving Catherine of Aragon to the foodies of today. Above all, she gives a vivid sense of what it was like to sit down to the meals of previous ages, whether an eighteenth-century labourer's breakfast or a twelve-course Victorian banquet or a lunch out during the Second World War.

Insightful and entertaining by turns, this is a magnificent tour of nearly a thousand years of English cuisine, peppered with surprises and seasoned with Clarissa Dickson Wright's characteristic wit.

  • Pub date: 19 November 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099514947
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 528
  • RRP: $29.99

About the Author

Clarissa Dickson Wright

Clarissa Dickson Wright found fame alongside Jennifer Paterson as one half of the much-loved TV cooking partnership Two Fat Ladies. Her autobiography, Spilling the Beans, was a Sunday Times number one bestseller and she is also the author of many other books, including Clarissa and the Countryman, Clarissa and the Countryman Sally Forth, The Game Cookbook and Potty! She has made several programmes for television about food history, including Clarissa and the King's Cookbook (which looks at recipes from the reign of Richard II), and a documentary on the eighteenth-century food writer Hannah Glasse.

Praise for A History of English Food

“This is a marvellous read ... [Clarissa Dickson Wright's] skill is to make food, even 800 years ago, seem relevant and amusing today”

Country Life

“Magnificently eccentric and robustly informative ... an impressive tour of the horizon of a well-stocked mind ... [a] glorious sense of the continuity of English cuisine from the Middle Ages to the present shines from every page of this engaging, funny and admirably entertaining history”

Sunday Telegraph

“Combining her two great passions of food and history, she takes us on a chatty and fascinating crawl from Medieval times when pigeons, eels and nettles were staples, to the pizzas, baked beans and chips of today ... consistently entertaining and informative”

Daily Mail

“CDW has produced a most relishable feast”

The Monday Book, Independent

“One of the strengths of the book is the author's comprehensive personal experience of the foods she describes. If you want to know the correct way to fillet a rook, or are curious about the taste of tripe made from cow's udder, then you couldn't hope for a more knowledgeable guide”

Mail on Sunday

“Witty, intelligent and readable even for those who have no interest in gastronomy, this is a work of maturity, the fruits of a lifetime spent rummaging through public and private archives, including those of her own family. If, as Clarissa Dickson Wright explains, A History of English Food is a book she always wanted to write, it is our good fortune that she has waited until now to do so”

Times Literary Supplement

“Written with Clarissa's special blend of wit and wisdom, this imparts a wealth of information while being fun to read. Whether you dip in for such tidbits or read through to gain a thorough understanding of how English cookery has evolved, there's something here for everyone. Fully illustrated, this is destined to be a foodie classic”

BBC Good Food

“Seen through the filter of food, especially when it's described by Clarissa Dickson Wright, history becomes fascinating ... this is a wonderful exploration of the life and times of our country”


“A well researched captivating book”

Food and Travel

“A learned, serious tome, packed with information and history”


“Centuries of cooks, farmers, traders, chefs, writers and immigrants have contributed to how we eat, and big, ambitious books like this remind us of our foodie heritage”


“What Clarissa brings to her less stringent, more capricious, generously illustrated account is a magical sense of almost having been there at every twist and turn, such is her passion for livestock animal husbandry and cultivation of the edible... [this will be] one of the better culinary Christmas presents”

Fay Maschler, The Spectator

“Forget the dry and dusty tomes about British food, mouldering on library shelves, this is the book to get your taste buds glowing. Clarissa has written a racy and readable account of a thousand years of English cuisine and it makes an ideal Christmas present ... But at 500 pages, it's not to be taken lightly - make sure they're sitting down before you hand it over”

the culinaryguide.co.uk

“Engaging because it is so full of interesting facts and old recipes, all related in Dickson Wright's resonant, no-nonsense manner and suffused with her love for food ... readable and enjoyable”

Sophia Waugh, Literary Review

“A most entertaining book”

BBC Olive Magazine

“Her passion for food is the vital ingredient in this marvellous mélange”

Cumbria Newsletter

“An impressive achievement, and, at over 500 pages long and fully illustrated throughout, a very substantial read. Just as well, then that Dickson Wright picked the mid-twelfth century as a launch pad. If she'd begun any earlier, then the result would either have been too heavy to hold, or lacking in the rich details that makes it such an entertaining read”


“Like a good cake, this book is stuffed with so many goodies that it is hard to know where to start ... This is a wonderful book. The author's research has been first-rate, her experience lends colour to a work which might otherwise have become efficient but impersonal ... it is a feast in every sense”


“Surely destined for classic status”


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