Elinor Lyon was a daughter of P.H.B. Lyon, a poet and headmaster of Rugby School. She lived in Switzerland for a while and then studied at Oxford University, but dropped out during World War II to serve in the WRENS (Women's Royal Naval Service) as a radio operator. In 1943, she met her future husband Peter Wright at Rugby, where he was a temporary teacher of classics and English; the couple had four children. Over a period of 25 years, Elinor Lyon published almost two dozen books for children, beginning with Hilary's Island in 1948. She and her husband retired to Harlech in Wales.