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Clarissa was born into a home where eating caviar and pheasant shooting were the norm and pigeons were flown in from Cairo for supper.
Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson-Wright was no stranger to good food as a child. She was born into a home where eating caviar and pheasant shooting were the norm and pigeons were flown in from Cairo for supper.
Her father was a respected surgeon, but also a violent alcoholic. When Clarissa won a place at Oxford, he refused to subsidise her unless she read medicine. So she went to University College London to study law and was called to the bar aged 21.
She practised successfully as a barrister for several years, before settling on cooking as her true calling. She ran her own catering business, cooked on a yacht in the Caribbean and served 60 meals a day at her London luncheon club.
Her 12-year bout of alcoholism, triggered by the death of her mother in 1978, has been well documented. She eventually turned to Alcoholics Anonymous and, while in a halfway house, she started working at Books for Cooks in Notting Hill, London.
Along the way, she also became one of only two women in England to become a guild butcher (the other was the Queen Mother). She is also the first woman to be rector at the University of Aberdeen.
She rode into fame in the sidecar of Jennifer Paterson's motorcycle in the TV series Two Fat Ladies and she was often seen as the slightly saner sidekick.
However, Clarissa refused to make another series of Two Fat Ladies after her co-star's death in 1998. In her latest TV project - Clarissa and the Countryman - she joins her lifelong friend sheep farmer Sir Johnny Scott to pay homage to rural Britain, sharing their passion for field sports and traditional country activities.
There's no denying she's a survivor, and her ability to talk on almost any subject along with her down-to-earth philosophy and straight-forwardness makes her a natural star. It's unlikely we'll see her cooking on our screens again, but she has published six books on food and cookery, and it's a sure thing that food will always be part of this lady's life!