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Hill was born to a "very ordinary" working-class family—his father was a professional footballer long before sportsmen earned riches—but began reading young. His mother was a great fan of Golden-Age crime writers, and he discovered the genre while fetching her library-books. After National Service (1955-57) and studying English at St Catherine's College, Oxford University (1957-60) he worked as a teacher for many years, rising to Senior Lecturer at Doncaster College of Education. In 1980 he retired from salaried work in order to devote himself full-time to writing.
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