Naomi Jacob was born probably in 1884 in Ripon, North Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom, the first daughter of Samuel Jacob and Nina Collinson (a novelist under the name Nina Abbott). Her father was headmaster of what is now Ripon Grammar School. Jacob's pseudonym, Ellington Gray, shows her close connections to the town and her family. Her grandfather, Robert Ellington Collinson, was a Mayor of the town and owner of the Unicorn Hotel.
Jacob said little about her father, however, causing some to speculate that he may have been as brutal as the men in her fiction. Nevertheless, as Michael Jasper hypothesized in Dictionary of Literary Biography: “From her father’s side of the family she obtained the pride in the Jewish people and hatred for anti-Semitism and fascism that would form the second major theme of her fiction and would also thread through her many Me volumes.”