Jocasta Innes

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Jocasta Innes (21 May 1934 – 20 April 2013) was a British writer, journalist and businesswoman.


Innes was born in Nanjing, China, the eldest of three daughters born to a Shell Oil executive and an Irish-Argentinian teacher who ran a school for the children of other British-born residents.[1] By the age of twelve she had lived on every continent in the world, except Antarctica. After a spell at a Coptic convent in Cairo, she was educated at Bedford High School from 1949 and Girton College, Cambridge where she read Modern Languages.[2][3]

One of her first jobs was with the Evening Standard’s Londoners Diary, where she was known for the utterly charming way in which she gatecrashed the debutante balls that were diary fodder at the time.[1]

Her first book was the bestselling Pauper's Cookbook[4] (1971), born as she said "out of necessity" during an impecunious spell. A self-taught cook, who idolised Elizabeth David, she was determined to show that making great food does not depend on buying expensive ingredients or having special expertise. This was followed by the Pauper’s Homemaking Book in 1976[5] which took the same democratic approach to interiors and Country Kitchen[6] which reinvented a lost world of rural British cookery and crafts – Damson Cheese, curing hams in saltpetre and parsnip wine.

In 1981 she published Paint Magic,[7] which introduced the country to the practices of stenciling, stippling and the pleasures of festoon blinds. It went on to sell over a million copies around the world. At a time when DIY meant rawlplugs and melamine kitchen units, Innes introduced middle England to a world of pelmets and passementerie. In 1983 she became the Design Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. She established her own paint company, Paint Magic, which had several stores in the UK and abroad. The company, of which Innes was chief executive,[8] pioneered innovative ready-made paint finishes for customers to try out at home as well as giving popular decorating classes. Paint Magic ceased trading after a decade.[3]

Innes moved to Spitalfields in the 1979,[9] where she renovated a derelict house from scratch,[1] and was a passionate campaigner for the regeneration of the area.

Family life

Innes married twice, to Richard B. Goodwin the film producer (the relationship ended in 1967)[3] and Joe Potts the novelist.[10] The couple split in 1979.[3]

For the last thirty years her partner was the architect Sir Richard MacCormac, a former president of the RIBA. The couple first met in 1981. She is survived by her partner, and her four children, Daisy Goodwin, Jason Goodwin, Tabitha Potts and Chloe Potts, and nine grandchildren.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Paul Levy "Jocasta Innes: Cookery and design writer who transformed our approach to home-making", The Independent, 26 April 2013
  2. Obituary: Jocasta Innes,, 23 April 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Veronica Horwell Obituary: Jocasta Innes, The Guardian, 24 April 2013
  4. Pauper's Cookbook (Penguin Handbooks) ISBN 0140461647
  5. Pauper's Homemaking Book (Penguin Handbooks) ISBN 0140462244
  6. Country Kitchen (Frances Lincoln) ISBN 0711204837
  7. Paint Magic, Frances Lincoln Ltd ISBN 07112 2272 X
  8. Emma Cook "How We Met: Jocasta Innes and Richard MacCormac", The Independent, 15 June 1997
  9. Goodwin, J. (2014) 'The Innes Effect' in The World of interiors. London Condé Nast Publications Ltd. March 2014 pp. 129–137
  10. Tabitha Potts Obituary: Joe Potts, The Guardian, 31 January 2012