Lawson is the daughter of Nigel Lawson, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Vanessa Salmon, whose family owned the J. Lyons and Co. empire. After graduating from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University, Lawson started work as a book reviewer and restaurant critic, later becoming the deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times in 1986. She then embarked upon a career as a freelance journalist, writing for a number of newspapers and magazines. In 1998, Lawson brought out her first cookery book, How to Eat, which sold 300,000 copies and became a bestseller. She went on to write her second book in 2000, How to be a Domestic Goddess, winning her the British Book Award for Author of the Year.
In 1999, she began to host her own cookery series on Channel 4, Nigella Bites, which was accompanied with another bestselling cookery book. The Nigella Bites series won Lawson a Guild of Food Writers Award; however her 2005 ITV daytime chat show was met with a negative critical reaction and was cancelled after attracting low ratings. Lawson hosted the Food Network’s Nigella Feasts in the United States in 2006 followed by a three-part BBC Two series, Nigella’s Christmas Kitchen, in the United Kingdom. This led to the commissioning of Nigella Express on BBC Two in 2007. Her own cookware range, Living Kitchen, has a value of £7 million, and she has sold more than 3 million cookery books worldwide.
Renowned for her flirtatious manner of presenting, Lawson has been called the „queen of food porn„. She is neither a trained chef nor cook, and has assumed a distinctly relaxed approach to her cooking.
Her given name originally being thought up by her grandmother, Nigella Lawson is a daughter of Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby, a Conservative MP, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, and Vanessa Salmon (1936–1985), a socialite, „celebrated beauty“ and heiress to the J. Lyons & Co. fortune. Her family kept homes in Kensington and Chelsea, and were noted for their luxurious life-style. In the 1960s, Peregrine Worsthorne wrote that Vanessa and her daughters looked „as if they had stepped straight out of a Visconti film set“. Lawson’s parents divorced in 1980. They both remarried; her father in 1980 to a House of Commons researcher, Therese Maclear (to whom he was married until 2008) and her mother, in the early 1980s, to philosopher, Sir A.J. Ayer (they remained married until her mother’s death). With Lawson’s father being a prominent politician, some of the things she found most frustrating were the many judgements and pre-conceptions made about her. There was a time when Lawson did not get on with her father, mostly during her parents‘ divorce, and she became friendly with her mother only when she reached adulthood. Being unhappy as a child has been attributed, by Lawson, partly to the problematic relationship she had with her mother.
Lawson’s school years were difficult; she had to move schools nine times between the ages of 9 and 18, spending some of her childhood in the Welsh town of Higher Kinnerton. „I was just difficult, disruptive, good at school work, but rude, I suspect, and too highly-strung“, Lawson reflected. Her father originally chose not to believe the reports of her disruptive behaviour and thought the school had the wrong person. Lawson reluctantly attended a private school in the Midlands and later returned to London’s Godolphin and Latymer School sixth form where she began to show skill academically. She worked for many department stores in London, and went on to graduate from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford with a degree in mediæval and modern languages. She also lived in Florence for a period.
Lawson’s mother died of liver cancer in Westminster, London, aged 48, when Lawson was 25.
a sister Horatia and sister Thomasina, who died of breast cancer in 1993 during her early thirties; She has a half-brother Tom, and a half-sister Emily, her father’s children by his second wife.
Taking part in the third series of the BBC family-history documentary series, Who Do You Think You Are?, Lawson sought to uncover some of her family’s ancestry.
She traced her ancestors to Ashkenazi Jews who originate from eastern Europe and Germany, leaving Lawson surprised not to have Iberian-Sephardi ancestry in the family as she had believed.
She also uncovered that her maternal great-great-great grandfather, Coenraad Sammes (later Coleman Joseph), had fled to England from Amsterdam in 1830 to escape a prison sentence following a conviction for theft.
It was his daughter, Hannah, who married Samuel Gluckstein, father-in-law and business partner of Barnett Salmon and father of Isidore and Montague Gluckstein, who together with Barnett founded J. Lyons and Co. in 1887.
Nigella Lawson wurde 1960 als Tochter des ehemaligen englischen Schatzkanzlers Nigel Lawson und dessen Frau Vanessa Salmon, Miterbin des Konzerns Lyons Corner House, zu dem unter anderem Dunkin‘ Donuts gehört, in London geboren.
Nach Abschluss ihres Sprachenstudiums an der Universität Oxford arbeitete Nigella Lawson zunächst als Lektorin, ab 1985 schrieb sie Restaurantkolumnen für die Zeitschrift The Spectator. 1986 begann Lawson als Feuilletonredakteurin bei der Sunday Times, wo sie den Journalisten John Diamond kennenlernte.
1989 heirateten Diamond und Lawson, sie bekamen zwei Kinder. 2001 starb der 47-jährige Diamond an Krebs, wie auch zuvor schon Lawsons Mutter und Schwester.
2003 heiratete Nigella Lawson den Werbezaren und Kunsthändler Charles Saatchi, einen Freund der Familie. Der Jude Saatchi hatte seinerzeit mit seinem Bruder die Werbeagentur Saatchi & Saatchi gegründet, später die M&C Saatchi.
Als freie Journalistin gab Lawson 1998 ihr erstes Kochbuch mit dem Titel How to Eat heraus, das sofort ein Bestseller wurde und sich mehr als 300.000 Mal verkaufte. 2000 folgte ihr zweites Buch, How to be a Domestic Goddess, für das sie mit dem British Book Award ausgezeichnet wurde.
Im Jahr 2000 erhielt sie auf Channel 4 ihre eigene Kochshow, Nigella Bites, die in Deutschland unter dem Titel Nigellas Leckerbissen auf RTL Living ausgestrahlt wird und zu der auch ein gleichnamiges Buch erschien.
Es folgten weitere Kochshows auf BBC Two wie Nigella Feasts und Nigella Express. Lawsons Shows werden weltweit ausgestrahlt und sind ebenso erfolgreich wie ihre zahlreichen Kochbücher, von denen sie bislang mehr als drei Millionen Exemplare verkauft hat.
- Nigella Lawson shares some Christmas tips! (graziadaily.co.uk)
- Sexy Cooking Celebrities: Nigella Lawson (friendseat.com)
- Nigella’s „Grazia“ Dress! (graziadaily.co.uk)
- favorite celebrity chefs. (backtoherroots.com)
- A little nigella goes a long way (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- This family’s favourite kitchen tool is a computer (thestar.com)
- Nigella Lawson: new ’naked chef seen from her bathroom‘, claim neighbours (telegraph.co.uk)
- Nigella Lawson’s Egyptian Tomato Salad Recipe Review (thekitchn.com)
- Nigella Lawson’s Bread (sliceofmylyfe.wordpress.com)
- Swedish chef Leila Lindholm blamed for country’s acute shortage of butter (guardian.co.uk)