Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmeralda Dickson Wright was born in St John’s Wood on 24 June 1947, the youngest of four children. She was a celebrity cook, a TV personality, a writer, a business woman and a former barrister.
Her father was a surgeon to the Royal Family and her mother was an Australian heiress. She said her father was an alcoholic who subjected his wife and children to verbal and physical abuse. After school, she studied for a law degree at University College London and was called to the Bar in 1970.
They lived in the large house ( no. 39) on the corner of Circus Road and Elm Tree Road which was built in 1809 for a Miss Sinderby, Lord Leconsfield’s mistress.
It stood on two floors surrounded by three-quarters of an acre of garden and a wall. Nine bedrooms, three bathrooms, library, a drawing-room and a gallery which had been built on for cricketing lunches due to the proximity to Lord’s Cricket Ground, a dining room, four cellars, a kitchen, a pantry, and a large servants’ sitting room . In her memoirs -“Spilling the Beans “ Clarissa says there was a tunnel under the house which dated back to Elizabethan times. Babington, a Catholic gentleman who had plotted against Elizabeth 1st, planning to put Mary Queen of Scots on the throne of England, had been captured at the bottom of the garden, so it had obviously been a recusancy house ( Catholics who refused to attend Anglican services and housed priests who took Mass at the house, often building secret passages to enable a swift escape).
“ St John’s Wood in those days was real village ; we had two butchers and one kosher one, three greengrocers owned by a family of Sicilians called Salamone, a MacFisheries and a proper fishmonger called Mr Brown. In those days every London fishmonger had a tank of live eels and because of the large Jewish community Mr Brown also sold carp and gefilte fish.. There was also, unusual for those days, a large delicatessen with barrels of pickled cucumbers and herring and all sorts of mid-European sausages.” ( From her autobiography “Spilling the Beans ” 2007)
Clarissa changed careers and went to Edinburgh to open a cookery bookshop. As a TV celebrity, she performed with Jennifer Paterson in “The Two Fat Ladies “, touring on a motorbike and sidecar.
After two decades following the deaths of both parents, when she had started drinking ,spending all her huge inheritance , she joined Alcoholics Anonymous and never touched alcoholic drinks again. She wrote a number of books, including “Spilling the Beans” (2007) an autobiography, and ten cookery books including “The Game Cookbook” with Johnny Scott.
She died in Edinburgh on 15 March 2014.