Nigella Lucy Lawson was born in London, England, on January 6, 1960. Her mother, Vanessa Salmon, was part of the Lyons Coffee House clan and her father, Nigel Lawson, later became a member of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's political cabinet. An avid reader, Nigella went on to attend Lady Margaret Hall College at Oxford University, where she earned a degree in medieval and modern languages.
Lawson decided to pursue publishing, and by the mid-1980s, worked as deputy literary editor for The Sunday Times before embarking on a freelance-writing career, penning stories for a number of prominent publications in the United Kingdom. Having developed a passion for cuisine after becoming The Spectator magazine's restaurant critic in 1985, she eventually helmed a bimonthly food column for The New York Timesand was appointed food editor at British Vogue.