[ilds] Elizabeth David

Vittorio Celentano vcel at ix.netcom.com
Sun Jan 13 18:08:34 PST 2008

Dear Friends,

I have the Penguin Handbook "Italian Cooking" by Elizabeth David, but it the foreword there is no reference to Lawrence Durrell. Anyway, this excerpt from Wikipedia should answer your query.

"Born Elizabeth Gwynne, she was of mixed English and Irish ancestry[1], and came from a rather grand background, growing up in the 17th century Sussex manor house, Wootton Manor with three sisters. Her parents were Rupert Gwynne, Conservative MP for Eastbourne, and the Hon. Stella Ridley who came from a distinguished Northumberland family. Her uncle, Roland Gwynne, later became Mayor of Eastbourne and may have been a lover of suspected serial killer John Bodkin Adams.[2]
She studied at the Sorbonne, living with a French family for two years, which led to a love of France and of food. At the age of 19, she was given her first cookery book, The Gentle Art of Cookery by Hilda Leyel, who wrote of her love with the food of the East. "If I had been given a standard Mrs Beeton instead of Mrs Leyel's wonderful recipes," she said, "I would probably never have learned to cook."

Gwynne had an adventurous early life, leaving home to become an actress. She left England in 1939, when she was twenty-five, and bought a boat with her married lover Charles Gibson-Cowan intending to travel around the Mediterranean. The onset of World War II interrupted this plan, and they had to flee the German occupation of France. They left Antibes for Corsica and then on to Italy where the boat was impounded, they having arrived on the day Italy declared war on Britain. They were eventually deported to Greece, then made their way to the Greek island of Syros living there for a period, where she learnt about Greek food and spent time with high bohemians such as Lawrence Durrell. When the Germans invaded Greece they managed to flee to Crete where they were rescued by the British and evacuated to Egypt, where she lived firstly in Alexandria and eventually in Cairo. There Gwynne started work for the Ministry of Information, split from Gibson-Cowan, and eventually took on a marriage of convenience to Lieutenant-Colonel Tony David; this gave her a measure of respectability but David was a man whom she did not ultimately respect, and their relationship ended soon after an eight month posting in India. She had many lovers in ensuing years."

Vittorio Celentano - vcel at ix.netcom.com

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Denise Tart & David Green 
  To: Durrel 
  Sent: Monday, January 14, 2008 5:56 PM
  Subject: [ilds] Elizabeth David

  Last night on TV I watched a tele movie about the food writer Elizabeth David. It would appear from subsequent research that she knew LD. Can anyone elaborate on this?

  Norman Douglas featured also and appears to have been a fascinating chap and quite an influence on the young LD. Sounds worth a read?


  Denise Tart & David Green
  16 William Street, Marrickville NSW 2204

  +61 2 9564 6165
  0412 707 625
  dtart at bigpond.net.au


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