Michael Black was born in Ampthill in Bedfordshire in 1922 to respectable middle-class parents. After leaving school he joined the Westminster Bank as a junior clerk. Then the Second World War broke out, and, after a spell in the Home Guard, in 1941 he joined the navy. During the Normandy Landings he was off Juno Beach, helping to direct operations. When the war ended, Michael eventually decided to study medicine, and he embarked on a long career as a doctor and psychiatrist.