Born on April 10, 1897, in Menston in Yorkshire, England, Eric Mowbray Knight was the third of four sons born to Frederic Harrison and Marion Hilda (Creasser) Knight, both Quakers. His father was a rich diamond merchant who, when Eric was two years old, was killed during the Boer War. His mother moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, following her husband's death to work as a governess for the royal family. She later settled in America.
Knight had a varied career, including service in the Canadian Army during World War I and spells as an art student, newspaper reporter and Hollywood screenwriter.
His first novel was Song on Your Bugles (1936) about the working class in Northern England. As "Richard Hallas," he wrote the hardboiled genre novel "You Play The Black and The Red Comes Up" (1938). Knight's "This Above All" is considered one of the significant novels of The Second World War.
Knight and his wife Jere Knight raised collies on their farm in Pleasant Valley, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His novel Lassie Come-Home (ISBN 0030441013) appeared in 1940. The novel was filmed by MGM in 1943 as Lassie Come Home] with Roddy McDowall in the role of Joe Carraclough and canine actor Pal in the role of Lassie. The success of the novel and film generated more films and eventually several television series, cementing Lassie's icon status. The novel remains a favorite in many reprints.