Hollingworth was born in 1911 in
Knighton, a southern suburb of
Leicester, the daughter of Daisy and Albert Hollingworth.
World War I, her father took over the running of his father's footwear factory, and the family moved to a farm near
 She showed an early interest in becoming a writer, against opposition from her mother, and her interest in warfare was stimulated by visits to historical battlefield sites in Britain and France with her father.
 After leaving school, she attended a
domestic science college in Leicester, which she did not enjoy.