Miss Read is the pen-name used by Dora Jessie Saint. She was born on April 17, 1913, the younger of two children, with an older sister. Although she spent her earliest years in London, she and her family moved to a village when she was a small child, and her love of the country began.

After leaving school, she trained as a school teacher.

She and her husband, Douglas, married in 1940, and had one child, a daughter named Jill. She lives near Newbury, Berkshire.

She retired officially in 1996, but in 2009 collaborated with Jenny Dereham to produce one more Thrush Green book.