Hilary McKay was born in Boston, Lincolnshire and is the eldest of four girls. From a very early age she read voraciously and grew up in a household of readers. Hilary says of herself as a child "I anaesthetised myself against the big bad world with large doses of literature. The local library was as familiar to me as my own home."
After reading Botany and Zoology at St. Andrew's University Hilary then went on to work as a biochemist in an Analysis Department. Hilary enjoyed the work but at the same time had a burning desire to write. After the birth of her two children, Hilary wanted to devote more time to bringing up her children and writing so decided to leave her job.
One of the best things about being a writer, says Hilary, is receiving letters from children. She wishes that she had written to authors as a child, but it never occurred to her to contact them
Hilary now lives in a small village in Derbyshire with her family. When not writing Hilary loves walking, reading, and having friends to stay.