Mary Berry

Mary Berry (1935–) is one of Britain’s best-loved cookery writers and television presenters, most famous for her cakes and baking. She has published more than 75 cookery books and sold over 5 million – from freezer cooking and one-pot wonders to her iconic cakes and buns. Here you can find out more about the lady who has taught people to cook for over half a century!

Mary Berry

Fun Facts

  • Mary’s great-great-grandfather was a master baker in Norwich in the 1850s. He provided bread for a local workhouse.
  • Mary likes to start her day with Marmite on toast every morning.

Mary Berry Quotes

“I know people think I invented the Victoria sandwich, but I’m really not that old.”

“Life is all about sharing. If we are good at something, pass it on.”

A Short Biography of Mary Berry

Mary Berry was born in 1935 in Bath, England. Her father was a surveyor and her mother helped with the bookkeeping, alongside raising the children.

Mary loved playing outdoors with her two brothers, but at 13, she contracted polio and spent three months in hospital, separated from her family. She was left with a twisted spine, a thinner left arm and a weaker left hand. She became determined to make the most of every opportunity.

After school, Mary took a course in catering and institutional management. Her first job, for an electricity board, saw her visiting customers’ homes to demonstrate their new electric oven. She would bake a Victoria sponge (something she still does when testing a TV studio oven!)

At 22, Mary moved to London, sharing a flat with four girls. She worked for the Dutch Dairy Bureau, demonstrating and developing recipes. Here, she persuaded her boss to fund a professional qualification at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, Paris. There she stayed for a month in a youth hostel, hardly able to speak French, and so poor she mostly ate baguettes!

On return, Mary became a recipe tester for the PR firm Benson’s. Then when Housewife magazine needed a temporary cookery editor, Mary’s boss recommended her and gave her leave to cover the position. This was Mary’s big break, and she later became cookery editor for Ideal Home magazine.
 
In 1966, Mary married her brother’s friend, Paul Hunnings, and three children followed – Thomas (1968), William (1969) and Annabel (1972). Mary took just five weeks’ leave after each birth to ensure she kept her position at work. In 1970, the family moved to Buckinghamshire, and Mary’s first book was published: the Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook. The TV show – Good Afternoon – also ran a feature from Mary’s kitchen.

Mary continued creating books and shows as her children grew up. Then in 1989, her son William was tragically killed in a car accident when he was 19. His sister Annabel escaped unhurt. William was visiting his parents from university and had driven with Annabel to the next village to buy a newspaper.

To help get through her devastating grief, Mary found a job she could do from home. After the success of her Aga cookbook, she began Aga workshops in her kitchen. For 16 years, more than 14,000 people attended. She also made shows to accompany her bestselling books and launched a series of salad dressings and sauces with her daughter Annabel, which are now sold worldwide.

At 71, Mary was ready to retire. But when a phone call asked her to be a judge on The Great British Bake Off, it seemed her career was just beginning! Mary became a much-loved member of the show and something of a style icon.

In 2012, she was awarded a CBE for her services to culinary arts, and has received numerous other accolades, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guild of Food Writers and an honorary degree from Bath Spa University (home to her former catering college).

Mary regularly works on cookbooks with her assistant of over 25 years, Lucy Young.

Our Mary Berry Resources

A Letter From Mary Berry Worksheet

A Letter From Mary Berry Worksheet

Can the children imagine that they are Mary Berry, writing a letter for a school newsletter explaining your views on what makes a healthy diet? Maybe do a little research into Mary's views on healthy eating first...

A Letter To Mary Berry Worksheet

A Letter To Mary Berry Worksheet

Can the children write a letter to Mary Berry, telling her about something they've cooked themselves, or if they've tried one of her recipes perhaps? 

Baking Alphabet Challenge

Baking Alphabet Challenge

Can the kids think of a baking-themed word for each letter of the alphabet? Great fun as a solo activity, or in a family group or classroom.

Mary Berry Comprehension

Mary Berry Comprehension

Mary Berry is one of the most well-loved personalities on British television! Our comprehension worksheet asks the kids to read all about her life, then answer some questions at the end...

Mary Berry Factsheet

Mary Berry Factsheet

You may already know a little bit about Mary Berry if you've watched her on television shows like the Great British Bake Off, but find out a little more by reading our factsheet...

Mary Berry Interview Worksheet

Mary Berry Interview Worksheet

Here's a worksheet with a difference. Can the children imagine they are a talk show host and able to interview Mary Berry - what questions would they ask? They need to think of some good open questions to get the best answers out of their guest...

Mary Berry Newspaper Writing Prompt

Mary Berry Newspaper Writing Prompt

The British newspapers had lots to say about Mary Berry leaving the Great British Bake Off in 2016 when the programme changed to another television channel. This worksheet lets the children write their own newspaper report about this well-loved TV personality...

Mary Berry Quote Poster

Mary Berry Quote Poster

"Life is all about sharing. If we are good at something, pass it on." Here's a fun poster featuring a quote from famous chef Mary Berry,  with a picture of two smiley face biscuits! Perfect to display in a kitchen, or anywhere!

Mary Berry Quote Worksheet

Mary Berry Quote Worksheet

"Cooking and baking is both physical and mental therapy."  I think many of us will agree with this quote by Mary Berry, but can the children write about what they think she means, then rewrite the quote in their own words?

Mary Berry Story Paper

Mary Berry Story Paper

Use our Mary Berry story paper to write down a recipe from one of her television programmes, or to write her a letter!

Mary Berry Timeline Worksheet

Mary Berry Timeline Worksheet

Do you know when Mary Berry first appeared on television, or when she first became a judge on the Great British Bake Off? Add these and the other important events in her life onto this timeline.

Mary Berry Word Search

Mary Berry Word Search

We've hidden ten words all to do with Mary Berry in this word search grid - can the children find them all?

Mary Berry Worksheet

Most children will probably recognise Mary Berry from her appearances on television, but can they write down what she is famous for, if they would like to meet her and what they would talk to her about?

Mary Berry Writing Page

Mary Berry Writing Page

 Maybe use our Mary Berry writing page for some copying work from one of her recipe books, or to write your own recipe inspired by Mary's cooking?

 

 

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