Elizabeth Gwynne was born into a prosperous family in Yorkshire. She grew up in Wootton Manor in Sussex, a Jacobean manor house. Her father served as a Conservative MP for Eastbourne and was a junior government minister before his death in 1924. Elizabeth and her sisters were sent to boarding schools. In 1930, she went to Paris and enrolled at the Sorbonne for a course in French history, literature and architecture. She lodged with a Parisian family, whose pleasure in preparing and eating meals made a great impression on her. She later wrote, "Forgotten were the Sorbonne professors. . . What had stuck was the taste for a kind of food quite ideally unlike anything I had known before." Back in England, she became an actress, joining the Oxford Repertory Company in 1933, and the Open Air Theatre in London the following year. During World War II, she worked for British military intelligence in Egypt. While there 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 that caught the public's imagination. Books on French and Italian cuisine followed; within 10 years, Elizabeth David had become a major influence on British cooking. She introduced a generation of British consumers to Mediterranean foods previously unknown in their country, such as pasta, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salami, aubergines, red and green peppers, and courgettes. Her books are considered classics and remain in print.