Brigid Allen read History as a scholar of Somerville College, Oxford, trained as an archivist in London, and was for several years associate editor of The Papers of Alexander Hamilton at Columbia University, New York. Returning to England she wrote a Ph.D thesis on ‘Anglo-American Relations and International Law, 1793-1815’ at University College London. She then became an archivist at the India Office Library & Records (now part of the British Library), describing and listing private papers of Europeans in India. Other collections of private papers on which she has worked include those of the historian Sir Arthur Bryant and the philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin. Latterly, in Oxford, she was archivist of Jesus College, then an etymological researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary.

Her books include several on food and its history (A Sainsbury Cookbook: Cooking with Garlic, Ginger and Chillies; The Soup Book; The Nut book; Food, an Oxford Anthology); business history (Cooper’s Oxford, a History of Frank Cooper Ltd; Morrells of Oxford, the Family and their Brewery, 1743-1993; and a biography of the Oxford Professor of Poetry Peter Levi (1931-2000), of which A. N. Wilson wrote in the Spectator of 30 August 2014 ‘You could not overpraise this book. It is so punctiliously researched, and so well written.’ She is currently working on a history of diaries and a biography of Emily Eden, whose novels she discovered many years ago on the shelves of the Keats Grove public library in Hampstead.

Created 26 May 2020