Clarissa Dickson-Wright: Life mementos go on sale

Among the items are a bomb threat, a likeness of Clarissa Dickson-Wright by Marianne More-Gordon, books, jewellery, and a gun cabinet Picture: TSPL
Among the items are a bomb threat, a likeness of Clarissa Dickson-Wright by Marianne More-Gordon, books, jewellery, and a gun cabinet Picture: TSPL
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A BOMB threat, hunting gear and crates of cookery books are among hundreds of items belonging to the late celebrity cook Clarissa Dickson Wright going under the hammer at 
an auction next week.

Dickson-Wright, who died aged 66 in Edinburgh in March this year, shot to worldwide fame when she appeared in Two Fat Ladies, the BBC Two cookery series which saw her ride sidecar on fellow chef Jennifer Paterson’s motorcycle, touring the country and preparing feasts in a flamboyant and colourful manner.

But while the London-born former barrister, who became an alcoholic following the death of her parents, managed to turn her life around by becoming a cookery sensation, the threatening note reveals the price she paid for championing the cause of hunting in the countryside.

The stark hand-written note, Lot 358, is among almost 500 items due to be auctioned at Coleridge House in Carlisle on Thursday.

It states: “Clarissa + Countryman YOU ARE GETTING A BOMB”, and is underlined twice.

The wording refers to Dickson-Wright’s book tour promoting Clarissa and the Countryman, with her childhood friend and sheep farmer Sir Johnny Scott, celebrating field sports as part of country life.

Following the death of Paters­on in 1999, Dickson-Wright joined forces with Scott for the Countryman series, which ran from 2000-2003.

Her outspoken views on field sports and support for the Countryside Alliance drew the ire of animal rights activists and hunting opponents. She was assigned a Special Branch officer for protection at the height of the protests.

Heather Holden-Brown, of HHB Agency, who was Dickson-Wright’s agent and friend, said the note came at a time what the chef
described as “the antis” were particularly vocal.

She said: “She did a book tour and certainly at that time the antis were being active. I think that probably like people in that situation she felt cross and part of her felt frightened by it. Certainly sometimes policemen kept an eye on her because of the pot­ential danger she might be in.”

Ms Holden-Brown described her friend as “incredibly generous” and said she believed many of the lots under auction, expected to reach more than £30,000, would have been gifts over the years.

She said: “She had some dark times in her life but she was a jolly good writer and very kind and intelligent. Her problems were well known but she hadn’t had a drink in 27 years before she died.”

After a stint of homelessness, Dickson-Wright began working at Books for Cooks bookshop in London before being persuaded by her friend Martin Hunt to move to Scotland, where she set up the Cook’s Book in West Bow in Edinburgh, before she was talent-spotted for television.

Mr Hunt, director of a public relations agency, said: “Clarissa taught me to cook and everything in the auction has a little bit of Clarissa’s personality within them and will trigger off memories for many people of happy times spent together.

“There are things in the auction with an estimated value of just £10 as well as £800. That sums up how accessible Clarissa was. She never shied away from trouble and never got into that celebrity bubble.”

He added: “We went along to the Big Curry lunch for the army last year at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh and the young soldiers there were just absolutely del­ighted to see her, they just loved her.”

Other items for being auctioned by Thomson Roddick and Medcalf auctioneers include more than 60 crates of books, antiquarian cookery books, oil paintings, and a hunting knife with diamond-cut horn handle.