Elizabeth Gwynne was born in Yorkshire and grew up in Sussex. In 1930, she went to Paris and enrolled at the Sorbonne for a course in French history, literature and architecture. On her return to England, she joined the Oxford Repertory Company and later the Open Air Theatre in London the following year. During World War II, she worked for British military intelligence in Egypt where she met and married Lt.-Col. Tony David, but the marriage was brief. After the war, Elizabeth David returned to England and began writing a series of articles about Mediterranean food. Books on French and Italian cuisine followed; within 10 years, Elizabeth David had become a major influence on British cooking.