Georgia Byng photographed by Mary McCartney

Georgia Byng was born in London but grew up in the countryside outside Winchester, a small city in England. Near her house was a cottage-lined road, Mill Lane. This was where she first found out about characters, for it was teeming with them. From Mrs Oxteby with her yapping dogs, to the Gale family with their naughty children, to the bohemian Mrs Hitchcock who lived in the mill and who had a craft shop, to the grumpy farmer who always shouted and swore at Georgia and her friends and brothers and sisters when they were mucking about in the fields or on the river. Georgia’s dad was a river keeper, her mother saved the local theatre from being pulled down, and her stepfather was a brilliant business man. She had a very happy childhood, marred only by being sent to boarding school, which was the inspiration for Hardwick House, the orphanage where Molly Moon lives.

Now, Georgia lives in London close to the theatres and in Brighton in a house overlooking the sea with her sons – Lucas, 18, and Sky, 13 and stepson, Stan, 16. Her 29 year-old daughter, Tiger, lives in Mexico. There used to be a hibernating Canadian frog in the fridge. Georgia has been married twice, once to the artist and inventor, Dan Chadwick and then to another artist, Marc Quinn. She is now engaged to the musician and comedian, Guy Pratt.

The idea for Molly Moon was born one rainy afternoon at Georgia’s mum’s house in the countryside.

“I was sitting at a table in my mum’s kitchen. It was a wet afternoon and the rain was pelting down outside. I was having a cup of tea and a biscuit. Paddy, the black spaniel, sat on the floor, looking longingly up.

Picking up the biscuit, I watched his eyes follow it. I took a bite. His eyes were glued to the digestive. As I moved it slowly from side to side, so his eyes swung left and right. He looked hypnotised! A funny thought sprung into my head. I wondered whether a dog could be hypnotised by an adult or…by a child. Actually, I thought, could a child hypnotise a person? A child would have so much fun. In fact they’d be incredibly powerful. Bingo! The idea was alive.”

Georgia Byng