Jennifer Lee was born in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, where her parents were on vacation, and grew up in Buckinghamshire. She left school at age 15 and learned shorthand and typing to become a secretary. She then decided to train as a nurse instead, and studied at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, before moving to London to receive further training as a midwife. She was hired as a staff nurse at the London Hospital in the poverty-stricken district of Whitechapel in the East End. In the early 1950s, she worked with the Sisters of St. John the Divine, an Anglican community of nuns, helping poor women and their babies. She worked later at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in Bloomsbury, and at the Marie Curie Hospital in Hampstead. In 1963, she married Philip Worth, an artist, and had two daughters. Jennifer Worth retired from nursing in 1973 to pursue her musical interests. She taught piano and singing at the London College of Music, and performed as a soloist and with choirs throughout the UK and Europe. In 2002, she published the first volume of what would become a trilogy of her memoirs, entitled Call the Midwife -- it became a bestseller. Shadows of the Workhouse (2005) and Farewell to the East End (2009) also became bestsellers. A fourth book, In the Midst of Life, published in 2010, described Jennifer Worth's later experiences caring for the terminally ill.