Delia Smith - Biography
With sales of over 18 million books to her name Delia Smith champion of the use of back-to-basics cookery skills and traditional ingredients - is the UK's best-selling cookery author. She is so influential that the appearance of utensils and products on her TV shows can result in them selling out overnight in shops across the country a phenomenon known as 'The Delia Effect'.
Britain's first celebrity cook didn't always aspire to become a kitchen whiz. Leaving school in Surrey with no qualifications she first became a hairdresser, then a shop assistant and a travel agent, before discovering her true passion at the age of 21. Her first kitchen-orientated job was washing up in a Paddington restaurant. From there she graduated to waitress before eventually being allowed to help out with the cooking.
In cooking Delia discovered her destiny. She began studying recipe books in the British Museum, trying out any meals which took her fancy on the family she was lodging with in London. Her big break came when she was hired as cookery correspondent for a new Daily Mirror magazine in 1969. The role proved a success both personally and professionally.
It introduced her to future husband Michael Wynn-Jones, deputy editor at the time, and lead to columns in the Evening Standard and the Radio Times. Among the highlights of this period was the appearance of one of her cake creations on the cover of Rolling Stones' album Let It Bleed.
In 1973 her TV career took off, too. Already fronting Family Fare, she approached the BBC with the idea of presenting a televised cookery course. Delia Smith's Cookery Course was an instant hit, spawning two further series and accompanying books which have sold over two million copies.
Not long after Delia enjoyed further publishing success with One Is Fun!. The collection of recipes for singletons was a 1985 best seller and led to a TV series of the same name. Five years on it was followed by Delia Smith's Christmas, a hugely popular series which still gets aired every festive period. On a roll, Delia became a record breaker with Delia Smith's Winter Collection, then the fastest selling book ever, and the one which brought her fans in the States.
By 1995 she was famous enough to be known simply as Delia, and was honoured with an OBE. While still releasing culinary tomes, like 1998's Delia's How To Cook, she was also pursuing her other passion in life - football. Two years earlier she'd invested in and become director of her beloved Norwich City Football Club.
Although she officially retired from TV in 2003, saying: "Now people want to be entertained, whereas I was trying to teach how to cook," she returned briefly to the small screen in 2008 for six-part series How To Cheat At Cooking. And she still keeps her hand in with her website Delia online, where she interacts with fans and shares an ever-growing archive of her recipes.